The post Why it’s worth targeting keywords with no-to-low monthly search volume appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
These keywords tend to be the “sweet spot” – a high number of searches with low competition – so they’re often the priority when SEOs conduct their keyword research.
Because of this, low volume keywords (those below 250 searches per month) often get overlooked. But could SEOs be missing out on organic traffic and leads by disregarding low volume keywords?
This guide uncovers the high value that could be hiding behind these low search volume terms (and how to incorporate them into your SEO strategy).
A few days ago I was doing keyword research for an elopement planner and photographer. The photographer primarily serves couples venturing to Patagonia (Argentina and Chile) and Iceland.
Due to her relatively small and unique niche, there weren’t a ton of high-volume keywords available.
Outside of rather broad terms like “chile wedding,” there weren’t many terms that were 1) over 100 searches per month and 2) fitting for her audience.
What we came up with were keywords like:
All of these keywords have a measly search volume of 20 searches per month or less. Does that mean we should skip these terms altogether?
Definitely not. Here’s why…
Low volume keywords often give you a unique opportunity to target terms that are highly relevant to your audience – ones that your competitors aren’t likely targeting at all.
While you may not see an influx of thousands of new users per month, you do know that you’ll have a good chance of ranking for that term and converting that small number of users into customers.
In the case of my client, we noticed that the top-ranking sites for these focus keywords weren’t completely out of reach. We have a good chance of ranking for these keywords by creating better content and upping her SEO.
Now imagine if we were to convert just one of those visitors per month. Her photography packages start at $6,000. That more than offsets the cost of the content (approximately $1500 for five blog posts).
Why wouldn’t we take the chance at targeting keywords that are hyper-relevant to her audience? We could be leaving $6000 (or more) on the table.
If you skip low volume keywords altogether, you may miss out on some conversion-ready traffic. You also give your competitors the chance to snag that traffic. Later on down the road, you may regret not targeting these terms.
The value of targeting low volume keywords goes far beyond just being able to get ahead of your competitors or driving a little more traffic.
Here are some other benefits of incorporating these terms into your SEO strategy:
Below, I’m going to cover some tips for harnessing the benefits of low volume keywords in order to reap some of these benefits for yourself.
Not all low volume keywords are created equal.
Just because a keyword exists – no matter the search volume – doesn’t mean it’s worth going after. You need to be selective about which keywords are worth your time (and money).
Here’s how to pick the right ones to incorporate into your SEO strategy.
1. Identify low-hanging fruit
When you start your keyword research, you likely already have a seed list of terms you want to go after. However, you may discover that some or all of these keywords don’t get much search volume at all.
Before you toss out your whole list, comb through the keywords that do get 0-200 searches per month to identify which ones may be “low-hanging fruit.”
“Low-hanging fruit” here refers to keywords that you are fairly confident you can rank for with little effort. Further, they are keywords where just one conversion would be enough to cover the cost of content creation and optimization. In other words, they are keywords that carry very little risk.
These “low-hanging fruit” keywords typically are ones that:
If you’re confident that you can rank for these keywords with little effort, and convert even one user into a paying customer, that keyword is worth going after.
2. Target keywords that are 100% relevant to your audience
To piggyback off the previous tip, you want to be sure that the keyword is super relevant to your audience’s interests.
For example, for my client, we could target keywords like “chile wedding dress” or “chile wedding customs”, but neither appeal to users that are looking to hire an elopement photographer. While we may decide to target these keywords to cast a wider net
Dana Flannery, a digital strategist at TAC Digital, is familiar with the value of targeting low volume keywords for her clients.
“Some of the best converting keywords on just about every site I work on are the teeny tiny ones. There’s nothing like an epic conversion rate on targeting exactly what users want. For example, one of my clients is a psychologist. We go after a very specific topic that has 70 searches per month. It’s super easy to rank number one. While it only gets a handful of visitors per month, almost all move through the funnel.”
The payoff for targeting these keywords is significant due to the long customer lifetime for this niche. Even the smallest volume keywords can pay off for years to come.
“Psychologists have a long customer lifetime – generally a minimum of ten initial sessions and then blocks of ten over the human life span. So this keyword, in essence, ranks with nothing but optimized content and a handful of internal links, and brings a steady low flow of high converting traffic that provides up to 50 years of return business.”
Another thing to consider is your (or your client’s) bandwidth for new clients or customers. Two more clients for my photography client and she is booked for the month. It’s a better use of our time and money to target a smaller, most-likely-to-convert audience than a larger, less interested audience.
3. Capitalize on ‘buying’ k
Finding a keyword that relates to something that’s of interest to your audience is great. Finding a keyword that attracts users that already have their hands on their wallets is even better.
These queries tell you that users are simply looking for the right option and price before they decide to buy. If you can get ahead of your competitors in the SERPs – and provide
It’s also a good idea to target commercial keywords. These are often keywords that include your brand name or the names of the brands whose products you offers. These keywords are hyper specific and are likely to draw in users that are ready to jump on the best deal.
4. Build relevancy in a small and new niche
One of the reasons why some keywords may not have much search volume is because users haven’t thought to use these terms yet. This is typically the case when you are in a small niche or are a new brand that people have never heard of before.
If you have a unique product sometimes you can get around this issue by targeting keywords that relate to the problem your product solves. For instance, if you have an automatic back scratcher, you may target keywords like “how to scratch an itch” or “dry skin solutions.”
But a lot of times you are starting from scratch (pun not intended). Your audience doesn’t quite know what they need or that your service/product exists. This is where low volume keywords can come in to “prime the pump.”
You can create content that targets 100 and below search volume keywords in order to build awareness around your product or service. You target these easy keywords with dedicated pages, solid content, and good on-page SEO in order to build relevance for high-volume, high-competition keywords in the future.
That way, when users search for a given keyword related to their issue or question, they may “accidentally” stumble across your content. This plants the seed that your product or service could be a solution to their problem.
Getting that little bit of traffic (and even word-of-mouth advertising) can go a long way.
5. Aim for a wide variety of low volume terms
1 + 1 = 2.
10 searches + 10 searches = 20.
You can potentially rank for several low volume keywords with a single piece of content. By incorporating many variations of the same parent term, you can compound your potential for organic traffic.
If you can find a solid money keyword and related variations, you can generate some rock-solid results from a single article.
Chris Castillo is an SEO strategist at Propel Digital Media Solutions. He was able to attract over 1000 visitors per month to a single article that targeted a primary keyword with a search volume of 150.
The article ranks for “
Just because your focus keyword only gets 20 searches per month does mean your potential for organic traffic stops there. By targeting a variety of keywords, you can potentially attract x2 the amount of traffic.
6. Assess the cost vs. reward
If you are going to invest in SEO content, you want to be confident that your investment is going to pay off. Some low volume keywords are just not worth the time or money it takes to create the content.
Say you sell a $20 product. You’ve found a keyword that gets 100 searches per month. In order to target that keyword and related keyword, you hire a writer to craft a blog post for you for $200. Even if you convert 2% of the traffic, it will take you at least 3 months to earn back what you invested in that blog post.
On the other hand, assume the same situation only you sell a $200 product. At a reasonable conversion rate, you’re likely to see a return much faster, after only one conversion. In that case, the reward is worth the cost.
Always choose keywords where you have a good chance of ranking high, generating traffic, and converting users. Or, simply accept investing in content that may take months to pay off.
7. Test conversions with PPC
Not sure whether a keyword is going to be “high converting” or not?
You can test out your ideas using PPC ads.
Choose a product or offer that your audience that you think your audience would be most interested in.
Then, identify the low volume keyword that fits that offer or product.
You can then run a small budget ad campaign to a landing page to see if users convert based on that keyword.
If it does convert, you can retarget users using Facebook Ads and the like.
You may be surprised to see that some low volume keywords have a higher conversion rate than your medium-to-high volume keywords. Who doesn’t want a bit more money in the bank?
8. Try the KGR Method
While doing my research about low volume keywords, I also came across the Keyword Golden Ratio, or “KGR Method.” I’ll admit that I had never heard of this concept before, but I think it is worth mentioning here.
The idea was coined by affiliate marketing guru Doug Cunningham. He asserts that someone can rank in the top 10 search results in “less than a month” if you follow his “golden ratio.”
“The Keyword Golden Ratio must be less than 0.25. The ratio is…The number of Google results that have the keyword phrase in the title divided by the local monthly search volume, where the LMS is less than 250. If the KGR is less than 0.25, then you should rank in the top 100 when your page is indexed.”
Essentially, his idea involves targeting low volume (under 250), low competition keywords in order to rank in the search results super quickly.
The KGR Method is a culmination of what I talked about earlier in this guide, but it may be worth checking it out if you are looking for more information. You may find some additional tips for how to incorporate low volume keywords into your SEO strategy.
Going after low volume keywords isn’t always a waste of time or money.
Before you skip them altogether, go through the tips above to see whether you have some gold mine opportunities. I suggest going after the low hanging fruit, targeting many keyword variations, and adequately assessing cost vs reward. You may find some unique keywords that will pay off both in terms of traffic and conversions.
The post Why it’s worth targeting keywords with no-to-low monthly search volume appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
The post SEO guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile for more connections, better leads appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
For that reason, many business owners and marketers treat their LinkedIn profile (if they even have one) like an online resume. They list their credentials, add a little blurb about who they are and hope that someone is intrigued enough to network with or hire them.
What they – and likely you – don’t know about LinkedIn is that it is a powerful search engine that has the power to drive targeted, high-volume traffic to your profile.
Not only that, but that traffic can very well turn into valuable professional relationships and new clients.
It’s time to stop sleeping on this platform and start tapping into that power.
With LinkedIn optimization, you will build connections with some of the best and brightest in your industry and attract your ideal clients directly to your profile and inbox.
From profile optimization and SEO to content posting and engagement, this guide covers everything you need in order to turn your LinkedIn profile into a brand-building, lead-generating machine.
Many LinkedIn optimization guides start and end at SEO, but I say that SEO is just the tip of the iceberg.
As with your business website, the success of your inbound marketing through LinkedIn not only depends on traffic but also on conversion optimization.
If you focus all of your efforts on SEO, without fully optimizing your profile for conversions, you aren’t making the most of the traffic coming in.
That’s why I put all of the LinkedIn SEO best practices to the test AND applied my own expertise around conversion copywriting, sales funnels and conversion optimization.
The result of that testing is this guide – which includes sections about profile aesthetic, creating a lead funnel, writing compelling copy on your profile and much more.
You’ll also learn how to craft a high-converting “welcome” message for new connections, attract your ideal clients directly to your profile and build authority with LinkedIn articles.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
One of the best things about your LinkedIn profile is how much real estate you have in terms of optimization.
Sure, the obvious places are your headline, summary and experience sections, but you can also take advantage of your profile photo and cover photo sections. This is what I call optimizing your “profile aesthetic” – as you aren’t adding SEO keywords, but are tailoring the look of your profile to your target audience.
Do looks really matter? You tell me.
How important is the design of your business website to how it appeals to potential clients/customers?
I’m a strong proponent of squeezing every bit of juice out of a platform in order to have it work for my business. When it comes to LinkedIn, that means not only having it talk the talk, but look the look.
To optimize your profile’s “curb appeal,” you are going to focus on two features: the profile photo and the cover photo.
We are all familiar with the dull, grainy headshots on LinkedIn. If you want to take your LinkedIn branding seriously, I say: Dare to stand out!
You’ll want a professional, high-quality image that highlights your personality and business. Something that your potential clients will find approachable.
LinkedIn suggests having an image where your face takes up 60% of the frame. (I don’t follow this suggestion myself – oops!)
For some industries, your look may include professional attire and a corporate background. For others, it could be more casual. The key is to appeal to what your target audience is most familiar with in working with people like you.
I’m an SEO content writer who typically works from my laptop all over the world. My clients know this of me and don’t expect me to be wearing slacks and sitting in a corporate office. But if I were trying to land high-ticket corporate consulting clients for my SEO firm, I’d likely go with a different aesthetic.
And please, ditch the selfie. I highly recommend investing in a professional headshot for this. It will make a huge difference – taking you from amateur to expert.
The cover photo section also gives you ample real estate to tell profile visitors what you (and your business) are all about.
The default LinkedIn profile cover photo is a blue background with geometric shapes and dots. As far as us business owners are concerned, this is a near seven inches of desktop real estate that is going to waste.
Let’s make it count.
You can easily create a custom Cover image using Photoshop or Canva that includes a professional background and copy that appeals to your target audience.
Best practices include:
In the example above, we see how this LinkedIn profile makes ample use of the cover photo section by including a photo of the business owner at a speaking event, a bold description of what he does (“Grow your FB group, grow your business!”) and a clear CTA to visit his website.
With this, users know at a glance what he does, who he helps and how best to reach him – all without having to dig through his entire profile. Users can sign up for his free training – and join his email list – right away.
By optimizing the look of your profile, you give the best possible first impression to your potential connections. You also make it easier for potential clients to understand what you are about and how to get ahold of you.
Once your profile is pretty, it’s time to move on to the rest of the sections.
As an SEO content writer and copywriter, I geeked out when it dawned on me that LinkedIn is a great place to implement conversion copywriting. It really is a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, many of us have treated our LinkedIn profile like a resume – concise and professional, yet boring.
LinkedIn was built around the idea of professionals connecting with other professionals. You won’t effectively do that if your profile reads like the ingredients section on the back of a bran flakes cereal box.
Instead, write your LinkedIn profile like you would your online dating profile, only, more professional.
Make it interesting, add pizzazz and write it to appeal to the type of people you want to attract.
There are a few primary areas where you can do this, and those are your headline, summary and experience sections.
Your headline is the line of text directly beneath your name on your profile. LinkedIn gives you about 120 characters of space here to tell visitors who you are and what you offer.
Your headline should be a combination of LinkedIn SEO keywords (which we will discuss in section three of this guide) and compelling copy. That’s because it works to both attract traffic and keep users engaged with your profile.
You want to be uber clear about what you do. This is not a space for witty taglines like “Probably out fishin’” or “I rank it, you bank it!” Not only do headlines like these not include keywords, but they can leave profile visitors feeling confused about what exactly it is that you do.
I suggest either keeping your headline chocked full of keywords, with a bit of finessing copy (“I’m a digital marketing strategist that help small businesses reach more customers online.”) or taking the time to craft a compelling headline with conversion copywriting.
In the example above, this business owner is straight to the point by simply listing what her job title is and the services she offers. This is fine. It includes proper keywords that could potentially draw in people that are looking for services like hers.
By contrast, this business owner focuses less on keywords and more on appealing to people looking for “business success” through a “best-in-class” partnership.
Note that both examples fill up their headline with copy and keywords, ensuring that none of that space goes to waste.
Not a great writer? You may want to reach out to a professional copywriter to help you craft a message that appeals to your target audience.
Later on, we will discuss how to find LinkedIn SEO keywords to include in your profile.
Your Summary section is by far the largest space for adding compelling copy and LinkedIn SEO keywords. With over 100 words worth of space, you can’t afford to NOT optimize this section.
This is where visitors go to learn even more about you, your business and the services that you offer.
I like to compare it to the about page on a business website. And every great copywriter will tell you that your about page is about your audience, not about you.
You need to craft a summary that speaks to what your target audience is looking for. This is not a place to simply rattle off your accomplishments and services.
Ask yourself, What is my potential audience looking for when it comes to working with someone like me?
Market research will be able to answer this for you.
If you conducted market research prior to adding copy to your business website, then you can apply the same concepts here. If you haven’t conducted market research in order to figure out your audience’s struggles, pain points, needs, and wants, you will want to do that first.
Once you have your market research in hand, you will write a summary that appeals to your target audience/ideal clients. You will simply address their primary struggle and how you will be able to help them overcome that struggle.
In the example above, you can see how I address the primary struggles that SEO agencies have when it comes to outsourcing SEO content: poor quality and writers’ lack of SEO knowledge. Then, I go on to explain how I do things differently, what to expect when working with me and how best to contact me.
Your summary section shouldn’t ramble on and on; it should be concise, targeted and written with a purpose. Get your message across as efficiently and effectively as possible so that you can move visitors along your profile funnel without delay.
The experience section is where I see most business owners getting lazy and treating their profile like a resume. I used to do this myself. Not anymore.
Your experience section is another place to include LinkedIn SEO keywords and compelling copy that convinces users that you are the right fit for them.
You do this by writing each Experience in a way that highlights what you took away from working at that company and the results you got for them.
Above is an example of how a LinkedIn user has used the experience section to include detailed summaries of the work she did at certain companies, the projects she was a part of and the results she generated through these projects.
For your own profile, you can mention things like percentage increase in traffic that you generated for an SEO client, an uptick in conversions for a Facebook ads client or how you increased a client’s business revenue year over year.
Highlighting these results is a great way to show profile visitors that you not only have experience, but how you can replicate those results for them.
I suggest writing naturally here, rather than including a bulleted list of everything you have done. Hand-pick your best examples and make them super compelling. Speak to what your potential clients are searching for and let them know how you can generate the results that they want.
LinkedIn SEO differs from regular SEO due in the fact that the keywords that users type in to find services and businesses on LinkedIn aren’t always the same as what users type into Google.
That’s because the average user doesn’t consider LinkedIn to be a search engine. They use it as it is intended – as a social media platform – and therefore use short-tail terms that match users’ job titles.
While users may use keywords like “copywriting services for small businesses” in Google, they are more likely to use terms like “copywriter” or “writer” on LinkedIn.
However, when users do search long or short tail terms in Google, LinkedIn profiles have the chance to rank in the SERPs. That’s why I suggest optimizing your profile with both SEO keywords and what I call “LinkedIn SEO keywords.”
To find SEO keywords to use in your profile, simply conduct keyword research as you would if you were finding keywords for your business website.
What do you want your profile to rank for?
Do these terms get decent search volume, with low competition?
Do they match the intent of your target audience?
These are all questions you’ll want to consider.
Generate a list of terms that are worth ranking for and that have a reasonable search volume. With this list, you will start on your LinkedIn SEO keyword research and then you’ll optimize your profile with a combination of these terms.
Unfortunately I have yet to find a tool that provides search volume data for keywords used on LinkedIn.
Therefore, this is not a hard science. But, if you are skilled in SEO, you can make some informed guesses around how keywords are being used on LinkedIn.
Here is my process for finding keywords on LinkedIn:
1. Search for the shortest, broadest term associated with the services that you offer.
Use LinkedIn’s search box to search for the broadest term that applies to your business.
If you have an SEO agency, this would be “SEO” or even “marketing.” As a Facebook ads expert, this would be “Facebook ads” or “advertising,” perhaps “social media.”
LinkedIn will automatically show you a list of the top results for that term in your network (more on this later).
2. Look at the full results.
Beneath the list of results, you will see an option to “See all results for [keyword].” Click on this to view the full results page.
This will take you to a page that shows you all of the results associated with this keyword, including the number of results, whether the results are connections, companies, groups, the location of the results and much more.
You will notice that the top results are likely connections already in your network – identified by a “1st,” “2nd” or “3rd” degree connection annotation. What this means is that you aren’t seeing the TRUE search results, as LinkedIn prioritizes showing people and companies that you have some existing connection with.
Our job then is to determine which terms yield the highest volume and best match results, across the board.
3. Take note of search volume.
Before moving on to the next step, make a note of how many results your initial search yields.
You can do this by looking at the original total, or by filtering it by people and companies. Do not add any other filters yet.
Basically, you want to know how many results are pulled up when users search for that term to find people or companies that offer services like yours.
4. See expanded results for first-, second- and third-degree connections.
Once you have recorded the initial “volume,” filter the results by ticking off the connection options.
This will pull up the profiles of people that you are connected with, as well as those that you are not connected with.
There’s no good way to see what others see when searching for your target keyword, but this gets you close. It will show you what keywords profile within and outside of your network are using, as well as how those profiles rank in LinkedIn for those terms.
This “search volume” will be your guide when it comes to deciding which terms are worth using in your profile.
5. Analyze the keywords used in the results.
Much like conducting competitor analysis of websites in your niche, you will now want to identify what keywords are being used in the “top ranking” profiles.
(Remember that is not the true search results, as they are skewed based on your degree of connection).
Note how your keyword is being used in the resulting profiles.
Are profiles using “SEO strategist” or “SEO specialist?” Are they simply listing “SEO, SEM, SMM” or are they more specific? See if you can find any trends here.
Finally, determine which terms are the best match for the kind of traffic you are trying to attract to your profile.
In the example above, we can see that most of these profiles use the term “SEO” near the beginning of the Headline, so this may be something we want to implement as well. “SEO strategist” has also been used.
Make a list of these terms. Then, enter these terms into the search box again and see what kind of results come up. Repeat this process until you have a list of the top 3-5 most used terms related to your initial “seed” keyword.
6. Reference your SEO keywords list.
Finally, you should compare your LinkedIn SEO keywords list to your regular SEO keywords list.
Is there an overlap? If so, keep these terms.
Are there some terms that are being used on LinkedIn but that may not be a great fit in the search engines? Decide whether you should replace this with a high-volume, low competition SEO keyword.
Eventually you will have a mix of terms that have the potential of drawing in traffic both from LinkedIn searches and Google searches.
Once you have a solid list of keywords, you will want to incorporate them into your LinkedIn profile.
A plus side with LinkedIn, compared to Google, is that there is no evidence that keyword stuffing is penalized here. However, you want to keep your audience in mind and have your keywords fit into your copy in a compelling, natural way.
For my own profile above, I determined that more profiles used “SEO content” “content writer” and “copywriter” than they did “SEO copywriter” – despite “SEO copywriter” getting a fair amount of search volume from Google.
I also saw the terms “freelance” and “ghostwriter” used a lot. Finally, I included keywords like “B2B” and “SaaS” to attract the types of businesses I work with.
Some areas to add keywords:
If there are some regular SEO keywords that you don’t want to leave out, your experience section is a great place to add these.
If you found trends in terms of where these keywords were being included in the top ranking profiles, try to follow this in your own profile. At the same time, don’t make compromises if you think that your profile copy is stronger by taking a different approach.
In section six, I address how to generate recommendations, skills and endorsements, plus how to add keywords to these sections.
Wondering why copywriting is so important for your LinkedIn profile?
Well, it’s because your goal is to turn your profile into a funnel for new leads.
While many LinkedIn users rely on visitors to take the initiative and contact them via direct message, you and I are going to do things differently. We are going to make it stupid easy for people to convert.
We’ll do this by funneling visitors down the page – from your cover photo and headline, to your summary, to your media section and, finally, to your inbox or landing page.
After visitors have read the text on your cover photo and in your headline, they should have a pretty clear idea about who you are and who you help. They will then make the decision of whether to learn more about you.
The summary section is your chance to address any pain points they have, communicate what your unique selling point is, and briefly cover the kinds of services that you offer. This is where it’s super important to get your messaging on point, based on the market research you conducted earlier
The media section on your LinkedIn profile allows you to add links to your website and blog posts or upload videos. This content can make all the difference in convincing visitors that you are the right fit for them.
While directing visitors to a page or post could be effective, this approach involves directing visitors off of your profile. There’s the chance of creating a bottleneck here, as visitors may drop off due to inconvenience, or the fact that it takes longer for them to read through text versus watching a short video.
That’s why I suggest adding a video to your media section instead. This video, again, should address the primary pain points your audience faces, communicate how you will help them and include a clear call-to-action.
If you do this effectively, you will build trust with your profile visitors and convince them to reach out to you directly.
The call-to-action in your video should tell visitors how best to contact you. This will likely be through LinkedIn direct message, or through your website. You may want to include a unique landing page for LinkedIn leads.
Your call-to-action should sound something like, “For x services, send me a message [on my website/through LinkedIn/through this link].”
Be specific about how visitors should reach you and what they should expect after they contact you. “Send me a LinkedIn message for a custom quote” is much more compelling than “Visit mywebsite.com for more info.”
By creating a profile funnel, you are more likely to take advantage of the traffic coming to your profile. Without a funnel, the burden is on visitors to figure out what you offer, chase down the details on your website, and figure out how to contact you.
A funnel makes the process straightforward, simple and conversion-friendly.
While LinkedIn SEO and creating a profile funnel taps into the power of inbound marketing on LinkedIn, there’s another way to attract your ideal clients to your profile.
That method involves building connections with your target audience and professionals in your industry.
As we learned in the SEO section of this guide, LinkedIn prioritizes showing you your first-, second- and third-degree connections whenever you search for a keyword. It works the same way for your potential clients. If you are connected with people in their network, your profile is more likely to pop up when they search for one of your keywords.
Therefore, the more industry connections you have, the better.
Many LinkedIn users connect with every possible person they can find (aside from the clearly spammy profiles).
While this has yet to be tested, I am of the opinion that this can potentially weaken you profile, as you will become associated with profiles outside of your industry, making it less likely for your profile to be associated with your target keywords.
Is it beneficial be connected with loads of graphic designers in India if you provide legal SEO services in the United States? Common sense would say no. (Feel free to prove me wrong, though).
My take is that it makes sense to build connections within your industry and within the industries of your target audience.
As a legal SEO expert, that would mean connecting with other legal SEO agencies, digital marketing experts, law firms, law blog writers and the like. You can still get quite broad.
Be smart about the kinds of connections you want to have and how they could benefit your business in the short-term and long-term.
While connecting with other people in your industry is simple, you will want to put more time and energy into connecting with people who fit your ideal client persona.
If you have been in business for a while, you will likely already know what these people look like. They could be small business owners, tech entrepreneurs, SaaS businesses, Fortune 500 companies, law firms, etc. Knowing this, you will simply use these identifiers to find profiles on LinkedIn that match.
If you are just starting out, you need to figure out what terms your target audience is using to describe themselves on LinkedIn.
You can do this by searching some general terms that you know about your audience (like “small business” or “contractor” or “mommy blogger”) and seeing what comes up in the LinkedIn results.
Dig around until you find people that fit your ideal client persona and take note of what terms they used in their headline and summary. Then, use these terms to find other people to connect with.
One of the reasons why LinkedIn has had a bad reputation for being dull and spammy is because many users use the platform to cold pitch their new connections. We aren’t going to do this.
Every time you extend a connection request to someone, send them a message introducing yourself and why you want to connect with them.
Remember – you are practically strangers. It will take a bit for them to trust you and determine whether the connection is worth it.
Rather than jumping into the pitch, follow scripts similar to the ones below (which have gotten me a near 100% response rate):
“Hello [ name ],
Thanks for connecting. I see that we are both in the [ niche ] industry. I am an [ industry title ] myself. Are you working on anything interesting lately? Chat soon! – [your name ]”
This script implies that the person has already connected with you or may have extended the connection first. It creates a sense of familiarity versus making it seem like a random stranger is connecting with them.
It also gives a reason for the connection, instead of leaving room for the person to suspect ulterior motives. They know what you do, so they can decide whether the connection is worth their time.
Finally, it prompts the person to respond by asking them about themselves. This puts the ball in their court. And, if they happen to be working on a project that you could potentially help them with, it opens the door to having that conversation without you coming across as salesy.
“Hello [ name ],
Thanks for connecting. I see that you [ run a small business/have a law firm/are a tech entrepreneur/etc ]. I wanted to reach out because I [ help businesses like yours do x ]. Maybe there’s potential to work together. Are you working on anything interesting lately?”
Similar to the previous script, this script lets the person know who you are and why you want to connect with them, and leaves it up to them to respond to you.
There’s no pitch that implies that you know how you can help them – you don’t yet – or starts rambling about the services you offer.
This keeps the conversation more open and prevents the risk of you pitching them on one service when they may have asked you about a different service that you didn’t think to mention.
Let the conversation flow more naturally and they will likely ask you about services that are most relevant to them. Another benefit of this approach is that you avoid drawing in leads that may not be the best fit for you.
Try to build as many connections as possible (following the process I outlined above), or at least reach that “500+” mark. This helps you build a more expansive network and appear as a trusted person in your industry.
Again, LinkedIn SEO isn’t quite as measurable as website SEO, but that’s part of the fun. By optimizing certain sections for keywords, you can test what works and what doesn’t and come up with your own lead generation strategy.
The recommendations, skills and endorsements sections are all areas where you can add LinkedIn SEO keywords, but they don’t bring any hard evidence that says they move the needle in terms of SEO. They may, however, move the needle when it comes to conversions.
LinkedIn recommendations are the “reviews” of your profile. This is where references and past clients can talk about their experience working with you and the results you have gotten for them.
Your clients will likely include keywords naturally here, which may or may not play a role in your profile SEO. If you prompt your network contact for recommendations, you may want to suggest that they include those target keywords, just in case.
SEO aside, recommendations are great social proof to show that you know what you are doing and that you bring awesome results for your clients. If visitors see loads of positive recommendations on your profile, this could be the final push they need in order to hire you.
LinkedIn allows you to add a list of skills to your profile that tells visitors what you are best at.
This is another area where it may be smart to include things that have your target keywords.
You can have three “top” skills, as well as a longer list of other skills that you have. I recommend listing your primary skills in the top three section, as these are the most likely to get endorsed (as they are seen first).
Endorsements are when other users endorse you for the skills on your profile. Again, this serves as social proof that you have the skills that you say you have.
You can reach out to users on LinkedIn to endorse your skills in order to boost your numbers. You can also endorse users for their skills, which could prompt them to contact you or endorse you back.
It’s best to have many endorsements for just a few skills versus only a few endorsements for many different skills.
Posting on LinkedIn can be hit or miss, as few guides have covered how to “hack” the algorithm. That’s why I believe your success on LinkedIn (in terms of posting) depends on what works best for you and your audience.
Try different content methods – long-form posts, images, videos, shared blog posts, etc. – to see which get the best engagement. Repeat what works, ditch what doesn’t and pretty soon you will have a LinkedIn content strategy that fits your audience and business.
One thing to note is that it is difficult to test the success of your content without being consistent. You should post different types of content, multiple times throughout the day and then assess the results. If you are simply posting one short post per day, it’s unlikely that you will get any tangible data.
You may also want to look at what your competitors are posting and which types of posting are getting the most engagement there.
The exception to this “post and pray” method is LinkedIn Articles.
LinkedIn gives that added algorithmic push to articles that are published on their platform.
While a shared blog post may attract a small handful of website visits, an article published on LinkedIn can easily trigger 2x, 3x or 5x the number of views.
For this reason, it may make sense to republish your existing blog content on LinkedIn. Just be aware of the ramifications of having two identical pieces of content competing for the same keywords. However, if website SEO isn’t a major concern to you, it could be worth taking this approach for the social traffic alone.
Finally, be sure to include a call-to-action within your LinkedIn article in order to take advantage of that traffic.
While posting on LinkedIn can yield spotty results, engaging with other users on the platform appears to be much more promising.
That’s because whenever you engage on a post, your comment and name pops up on your connections’ LinkedIn feed. You can also pop up as a second- or third-degree Connection to users in their network, expanding your reach.
That is, the more of a presence you have on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to be seen by people inside and outside of your network.
It stands to reason then that most of your time on LinkedIn should be spent engaging with other peoples’ content, rather than posting your own content (until you come up with a content strategy that works). It’s the best way to connect with users one-on-one and reach profiles outside of your immediate network.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t post on LinkedIn at all, but in terms of the numbers, it’s clear that more new traffic is driven to your profile through engaging with other peoples’ posts.
When users see your comment they are likely to click into your profile to learn more about you. You can then reach out to these new viewers through a request to connect.
These views are reflected by your notifications and in your LinkedIn analytics.
No optimization guide is worth its weight without showing the results in terms of cold, hard numbers. That’s why I was sure to test all of the LinkedIn best practices I encountered, as well as any optimization hacks I came up with on my own.
I recommend that marketers and business owners do the same, as LinkedIn optimization is still not cut-and-dry. The success of your LinkedIn strategy also depends on what works best for your target audience.
LinkedIn offers you rather limited (but enough) data to see how your profile is performing.
You can see how many people have viewed your profile, how many have viewed your posts, how many people you have connected with, and how often you have appeared in the search results.
You can also see who has viewed your profile (unless they have a protected account) and examine trends over time.
Since implementing my own LinkedIn SEO strategy in January, I saw a 173% increase in profile views over the course of 30 days.
Post March 26, my average number of profile views has been around 50 per day. That is with very little posting or engaging on LinkedIn (roughly 1-3 times per day).
I have also grown my number of connections from 325 to 900-plus in 90 days, and have generated at least 10 qualified leads in that time (without outreach).
These results have come from a process of near constant testing. I have told others to implement micro-optimizations and analyze their LinkedIn analytics to see what is working and what isn’t.
The goal of LinkedIn optimization isn’t merely more traffic and connections, though.
If you are starting on your own LinkedIn optimization journey, I recommend tracking how many leads you generate as a result of your efforts (LinkedIn does not track this for you). Only then will you truly know whether your strategy is paying off.
You can tap into your Google Analytics to see how many visitors you are getting from LinkedIn, and then set up conversion tracking there. However, if you are directing users to your LinkedIn inbox, you will have to track this manually or with a bot.
The numbers don’t lie. Follow what works and you will certainly see an uptick in connections, traffic and leads over time.
By following the LinkedIn optimization tips above and testing your own ideas for optimization, you can generate high-volume traffic to your profile and convert that traffic into qualified leads for your business.
The foundation of this strategy consists of conducting LinkedIn SEO keyword research, optimizing your profile aesthetic, building quality connections, and directing visitors through your custom profile funnel. Then, it’s just a matter of making adjustments based on what works for your target audience and business model.
Are you making the most of your LinkedIn profile? If not, start today.
The post SEO guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile for more connections, better leads appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
The post How to create a style guide for your SEO content writers appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
“My writers are inconsistent.”
“How do I know if a writer ‘gets’ SEO?”
As someone who’s deeply immersed in the world of search engine-optimized (SEO) content writing, I hear these statements quite a bit.
What I find is that there seems to be a gap between the data-focused SEO pros and the creative copywriters they tend to hire. That is, it’s hard to find that sweet spot where a writer both understands SEO and how to write in a way that sells.
It’s essential that you have both pieces of the puzzle. Yet, SEO agencies and consultants often struggle to:
So, what’s the secret to getting your web page copy just right?
It all comes down to the magic of a well-organized, descriptive and mission-focused style guide or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
In this article, I give my “10 Essentials” for creating an effective style guide, as well as an example template that you can use for your own business.
I often use “style guide” and “SOP” interchangeably, because what you really want to create for your writers is an all-encompassing guide on how to write SEO-friendly content for your site or your clients’ sites.
Many people separate these two, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, I recommend being as concise as possible and not overwhelming your writers with too much “fluff.” They often don’t need to know all of the ins and outs of your entire brand (or robust SEO strategy, for that matter).
So, what is this document, really?
An SOP (aka Standard Operating Procedure) is a set of instructions on how to do something.
This can be used for SEO, writing, project management, onboarding clients or what-have-you. In our case, an SOP outlines how you want your writers to write you content.
I also tack on the style guide because there is a creative element to writing (something that other types of tasks often lack). Writers need to have an idea of what the brand is about, what kind of language should be used, who the target audience is and more.
That’s why including a style guide is an essential add-on to your typical SOP.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from SEO agencies and consultants is that they struggle to find consistent writers. Additionally, they feel that their writers don’t really understand SEO.
Well, I’ve got some news you may not want to hear: part of the reason your writers are inconsistent and don’t get SEO is your fault.
But let’s be honest — the typical SEO/writer engagement goes something like this:
There is a crucial step missing here, and that’s instruction.
Your writers can’t (and shouldn’t have to) read your mind.
If you give them limited information and direction, they are left to their own devices. The end result may be amazing, or it may be way off from what you expected. You can’t afford to have that kind of hit-or-miss engagement in your business.
It is your responsibility to outline your expectations, brand details, procedure, SEO strategy and desired writing format. This gives your writers the information they need to do the job right the first, second, third, fourth time… and so on.
By giving them a style guide, you set them up for success. You also help prevent the headache of receiving inconsistent work that you then have to edit on your own, which can be a huge time and money suck.
If you are struggling with getting consistent content from your writers or don’t know how to teach them SEO, then creating a style guide may be the best solution for you.
Recently, I have done a couple of Facebook Live tutorials on what matters in SEO content writing, and I have come to recognize a common theme in the SEO space: Many SEO agencies haven’t done the front-loaded work of market research to adequately understand their audience or the audiences of their clients.
This means that, aside from the typical SEO data, they are essentially going in blind when it comes to writing content that sells.
And we all know that writing content that is SEO-friendly is only one part of the equation. Your content also needs to be able to drive conversions.
This realization was the main reason I decided to write this article. Many SEO pros struggle to write conversion-optimized content themselves, or to find writers who can write it for them. The information in a style guide should help you zero in on a successful approach.
So, I have outlined what you need to know before you can create a writing style guide.
Having answers to these questions for your own brand and every client you work with will both help you understand the brand better and communicate it with the people you work with, particularly writers.
If you don’t know these essentials, it’s likely that your content will fall flat. SEO and competitor analysis is not enough to go on when it comes to cultivating a message that truly resonates with the focus audience. In other words, it just won’t sell.
Note: If you are struggling to answer these questions, I suggest looking into the concept of the Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) or Persona. Developing these descriptions will help you paint a clear picture of what the brand’s audience looks like, what they want and need and what message relates to them best.
With this information lined out and organized, you will be ready to start creating a style guide that you and your writers can use to write content that’s made to sell.
A good writer will know how to incorporate these elements into their writing. If they don’t, it may be time to find someone else.
Most writers will be able to pick up on the basics of SEO (what will be outlined in the next section), but it is much harder to teach the psychology behind persuasive copywriting. That’s why, when looking for writers, you should focus on their ability to cultivate an on-brand message instead of their knowledge of SEO.
The next element that should be included in your style guide is how to structure content to be SEO-friendly.
If you are an SEO expert yourself, your strategy may be different from mine or that of other SEO agencies. That’s OK. What matters here is that you are creating a document that effectively outlines how you want your writers to organize their content.
The easiest way to do this is with a template.
While I don’t recommend adhering strictly to a template, this can be a good starting point for writers who have little to no knowledge of SEO.
Then, this template can be altered down the road, once your writers come to understand the basics and even advanced strategies of SEO content writing.
What you include in your SEO writing template will depend on the purpose of the post or page, the structure of the site and your SEO strategy.
Here, I try to be as concise and possible, knowing that my writers may not understand SEO jargon or the purpose behind some of the formatting. An overwhelmed writer is not a happy writer.
This may be a learning curve for them, so be patient. However, you can rest easy knowing that you will reduce the need for hours of editing. Minor edits are to be expected. Regular, major edits may reveal that you need to hire someone else.
One last thing that I like to do in creating a style guide is to clearly outline the writer and client expectations.
Oftentimes, people do this in the contract, but it can be helpful to add it to the style guide. It helps ensure that everyone is following through on their responsibilities and that the process goes off without a hitch.
For example, if the expectation is that you or the client will be including the focus keywords, you may want to note this on the document. If, however, the writer is expected to do their own keyword and SEO research, this should be on the style guide as well.
Again, the focus here should be on providing essential information to help your writer do their job better and be consistent, without overwhelming them with the ins and outs of your advanced SEO knowledge.
Below I have included a simple outline of what I include on style guides for SEO content writers, especially when it comes to sales pages, lead generation pages and the like. Feel free to revise this based on your own approach and needs.
Client Name: (client name)
URL: (client URL)
Mission: (Client) mission is to be a resource for local contractors in (location) to outsource their digital marketing and generate high-quality leads for their business.
Purpose: web page; to generate leads for (client).
Audience: local contractors in (location); $10-20K per month budget; family-owned businesses.
Solution: A complete outsource for local contractors that are tired of being nickel-and-dimed by other digital marketing agencies or don’t have the time/knowledge to do it themselves.
Tone: Approachable, understanding, not sales-y, authentic.
Style: Conversational with persuasive edge.
Organization: Short, concise sentences that hook the reader; (data to prove it).
Platform: Landing page for Google AdWords; local SEO traffic.
Conversions: Sign-ups for free consultations with a digital marketing expert.
Title: eye-catching; contains focus keyword.
Words: 1200-1500 words.
Keywords: (include list of keywords).
Keyword Implementation: Use focus keywords in H2s and throughout content where applicable; run through (SEO tool) to check for over-optimization.
Internal Linking: link to (page) and (page) using (anchor text) and (anchor text), respectively.
External Linking: no external links.
Headings: 4 H2s and 3 H4s (maybe specify what these are and where).
Organization: (include an outline of the content if you wish. Optional.)
Length: 2-3 sentences per paragraph.
Calls-to-action (CTA): 3 CTAs at top, middle and bottom of page; callout to “Sign up for free consultation” or “Call us today.”
Other: Include bulleted list in (section) with at least 6 bullet points.
The post How to create a style guide for your SEO content writers appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
The post How to find good writers and other content marketing struggles appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
From low-cost content factories to high-ticket copywriters you feel you can’t afford, you may find yourself wondering if there’s a middle road.
How do you know which solution is best for you? Some say the best solution is to build an in-house team of writers, but this isn’t always the most affordable (or practical) option.
For those that need to outsource content writing, finding the right fit can be a bit of a whirlwind and confusing.
Today’s column will help answer all those questions, and more! I’m going to share ideas that will help you find, qualify and hire quality search engine optimization (SEO)-savvy content writers you can depend on.
Qualifying a good writer can feel a lot like qualifying a new love interest. They look good on paper and make a good first impression, but how do you really know they are the one?
The hard truth is that, just like with a love interest, you’ll have to spend time getting to know your writer before you really get an answer in full. But that doesn’t mean you have to go in blind. Here are some non-negotiables that will increase your odds of finding a good fit without wasting time:
[Read the full article on Marketing Land.]
The post How to find good writers and other content marketing struggles appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
The post You need 23 keywords in a blog post to rank well. Not. appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
“How many keywords should I use in my posts?”
People seem to be looking for an exact number or percentage that defines an ideal “keyword density” for web pages and blog posts. They feel there is a sweet spot, and if they hit it, the traffic will come pouring in!
Sadly, that’s not exactly the case. In fact, keyword density is a useless metric when it comes to writing content optimized for search engine traffic and conversions.
To help anyone looking for an answer to that question, I want to try and debunk some common misconceptions about keyword density and show there is no magic keyword number. I will also share a handful of strategies I feel are useful for writing SEO-friendly content.
There is no clear correlation between keyword density and how much organic traffic is generated by a post or page. In this case, the lack of evidence may be evidence in and of itself, as no SEO expert has been able to pinpoint the ideal ratio of keywords to content for generating traffic. I’ve tried and failed more times than I care to admit.
That’s not to say keywords don’t matter; they do and will continue to matter for the foreseeable future. However, it’s important to think beyond keywords and understand there are many more important factors coming into play.
I would argue that search engines have started putting less emphasis on keywords used versus the intent or purpose of the keywords within the content. Search engines are smart, and they are ultimately going to show users the best fit for what they are looking for, regardless of the exact terms used.
For example, stuffing your web page with “family law attorney” does little to inform search engines of the focus of your post or help them match your content with a user’s intent. Is the user looking for a family law attorney in a specific area? Are they trying to figure out how to become a family law attorney? Are they wanting information on how to file for divorce? The variations of the terms you use and the overall context of the content matter far more than the density of your target keyword.
You want to make sure your keyword research is on point before you hop into writing any content. Many people, SEO experts included, have a list of target keywords in mind they want to create content around but don’t take the time to support their terms with data or fit them into a holistic content strategy.
You want to be sure the terms you are using are in fact a good match for the purpose of your content, have a reasonable search volume and make sense for your website, niche or brand. Don’t make the mistake of targeting a keyword “on a hunch” or simply because your competitors are ranking for a term.
You want to create a cohesive plan for your content, whether it is being used as a landing page for ads, for generating organic traffic or for some other kind of content marketing campaign. Support your strategy with data and create a clear picture of how you want your content to work for you.
Another common question I hear regarding SEO-friendly content is “What is the ideal word count?” The question arises because naturally, people want to know how to budget their time. There’s no use writing a 3,000+ word post if a 500-word post will work.
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, “It depends.” It depends on a variety of factors, and without assessing each case individually, I can’t establish a hard rule to answer this question. However, I can give insight into my process of determining how long a post or page should be. I start with the purpose of a post.
I feel strongly that SEOs and webmasters should stop writing content solely to enhance their SEO programs and should focus on what really matters: users.
While using content to generate traffic is a goal, the ultimate goal should be driving conversions. This can only be accomplished if your content is written with your target audience in mind.
Understanding who you are writing for will truly make or break your content success. It doesn’t matter how long your content is, what platform you are on or how many keywords you use; if you don’t have the right message for the right audience, your content campaign will not be a success.
Too many businesses and SEO agencies churn out content for SEO purposes without digging into what many call their buyer persona or ideal customer avatar (ICA). Understanding your ideal customer or client can help with:
Once you understand your customer or client, it will help you write content that’s made to sell. Your audience will get the impression your content is written directly for them and are more likely to convert.
This seems a little silly to say, but it’s important to understand why you are creating content before you begin. Sometimes you are writing simply to generate traffic, but more often you want to use that traffic to boost subscribers, leads or sales. Writing for traffic and writing for subscribers means creating two different types of content. Not only do you need to have SEO in mind, you also need to be thinking about conversion rate optimization (CRO).
What elements should you incorporate in your content to encourage engagement? What messaging will entice a user to buy your products? What bit of content or snazzy title will drive social media shares? Your content purpose will shape how you write and how users will interact with your content.
Be creative and consistent with your content messaging. It is important for three reasons:
Understanding who you serve and what you provide is an important component of copywriting for your business. Without that knowledge, your content is at risk of sounding generic or not driving conversions.
Of course, optimizing your content for search engines is an important component of SEO content writing, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
Your approach will ultimately depend on what keywords you are targeting, what makes sense for your audience and the purpose of your content. After that, great SEO content is the result of following SEO best practices and testing. I always recommend A/B testing your content to find what works best for your audience and goals.
Write for your users and have an end goal in mind when you create content. If you do, you will be well on your way to more traffic and conversions.
The post You need 23 keywords in a blog post to rank well. Not. appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
The post How to drive conversions with on-brand SEO copywriting appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
In this article, you’ll get the lowdown on why on-brand content is so important — as well as how to curate the right message for the right audience at the right time.
I like to say “2018 is the year of personal branding” given the trends I’m seeing. Though larger-scale business branding is important, I am finding more and more customers are looking to put a “face” to the business they want to work with. It’s not enough to simply drive traffic to your site or share a ton of articles on social media. You have to build a connection with your audience that encourages trust and establishes you as an authority in your niche.
Great SEO copywriting involves much more than simply writing for Google, or even writing for your target audience. It is a beautiful balance of both, and to do it effectively, you often have to think outside the box.
To break it down, SEO copywriting is a way of writing that is both SEO-friendly and speaks to your audience in a way that attracts and converts them. It is NOT a means of simply plugging in keywords and walking away.
In fact, people often ask me about keyword density when it comes to my writing, and in reality, that metric hardly ever pops into my mind.
If you are truly sharing high-quality, accurate and informative content that answers a question your audience may have, it’s already on its way to being SEO-friendly. You then just need to do the research to confirm that those terms have the search traffic and competition level that you are after.
As I mentioned above, your brand message is an important component of SEO copywriting — as is often overlooked by copywriters and SEO experts alike. It plays a huge role in how you write, who you are writing for, the action you want them to take and more.
So, how do you harness your brand message to write SEO content?
Establishing a brand message is an important step in starting a business, even though many business owners skip this step. Perhaps they have looked at the marketplace, homed in on their target audience and know what they offer, but they haven’t rolled it all together cohesively.
The result is often website and marketing copy that reads flat. It ends up being a lot of generic jargon and doesn’t truly capture the essence of what the business is about.
What’s the consequence? Well, even if potential clients make it to their site, they won’t get a solid idea of what the site is about and how the services apply to them. If they don’t see the connection, they won’t convert.
In order to find the brand message of a business, there are a few fundamental questions to ask. Here are some questions that will help get the wheels turning when it comes to figuring out the right message for your particular audience.
1. What is it about your service or product that makes it unique?
First, you must define what it is that you offer that makes you stand out from your competition. Even if they have highly similar services/products, it is likely that there is at least one thing that sets you apart.
For example, it could be that you “don’t cut corners” when it comes to SEO, or that the products you offer are “locally sourced and organically grown.” Whatever it is, knowing what that one thing is that makes you different will help you attract the kind of audience that is wooed by your unique offer.
2. What value do you provide to your customers or clients?
Think beyond surface-level value (such as money or giving them a product), and really get down to what value your business offers.
For instance, it could be the convenience of outsourcing their digital marketing needs. Or it could be the relief of working with a trustworthy SEO agency that has their back. If you think about it, both of these offers could be taglines in and of themselves.
A lot of times you will find that your audience isn’t necessarily looking for more money — but much more than that. It is likely that your competitors are pitching “more sales,” but how can you sweeten the deal?
3. Who is your ideal customer/client?
When I ask clients this question, the usual answer is something like “small business owners,” “digital marketing professionals,” or even “creative entrepreneurs.” The problem with these answers is they give you very little information to go on when it comes to creating a brand message that appeals to your “ideal client.”
You’ll want to create a more holistic profile around who this person/people are by asking:
The more you know about them, the easier it will be to figure out what they want and how to reach out to them. This is the information you will incorporate into your SEO content.
4. What’s the #1 goal you have when it comes to your website?
Typically, the goal of your website is to drive conversions. But again, that’s not quite specific enough. You should have a plan for how you want users to engage with your website.
All of these actions are a bit different, and thus, each calls for a different kind of message. The idea of what actions you want users to take and your brand messaging should work together cohesively to help drive conversions through a website.
5. What problem(s) do your services/products solve for your clients/customers?
Similar to Question 2, this question serves to dig deeper into what you actually do for your clients or customers.
If your business is to sell computers, the problem isn’t “My customer needed a laptop, and now they have one.” A better answer would be “My customer wasn’t able to work from home without a laptop. I was able to provide them with one at an affordable price.” See how you are then recognizing a more specific problem and how you were able to solve it.
You may even want to make a list of the most common questions or struggles of your potential and past clients. How can you make business and life easier for them? The answers to these questions pose opportunities for content on your website.
6. What style/tone appeals best to your target audience?
A lot of business owners get sucked into the marketing jargon they see online and apply it to their own sites. This may work for some businesses, but not all. Your website copy should be less about what appeals to you and more what appeals to your target audience.
If you have fully answered Question 3, you may have a solid idea about this already. You should know what tone and style fit best with their personality and what they are after.
An important component of writing great SEO content is testing different versions and styles of copy.
There are many ways to do this, but perhaps the most well-known and easiest way is through A/B testing. With A/B testing, you test two (or more) versions of your content to see which performs best.
For example, you may have two nearly identical posts, but you want to test the effectiveness of two different headlines. You would then circulate both posts and see which performed best (looking at traffic, conversions, clicks and so on.) The results of this test should tell you what kinds of headlines resonate with your audience.
You can make variations on nearly anything. The most common are:
I suggest making only one or two changes so you can pinpoint which element was the deciding factor in making your content perform better or worse.
If you don’t have time for A/B testing before you publish content, you can always make incremental edits over time and track the performance metrics.
For example, if the page is not performing well (trafficwise or on social networks), and you change the title and those metrics improve, it’s safe to assume one variation was the culprit.
There is no problem in trying out different kinds of copy to see what works best with your audience. In fact, I highly recommend it! As an added measure, you can even create a questionnaire of sorts for prospects or past customers to assess the impression and effectiveness of your content.
If you are able to answer these questions in depth, you are well on your way to creating a cohesive brand message. On-brand SEO copywriting is really about incorporating these different components into your copy so that it is focused on your ideal customer and what they want/need. If you can do that, they will see the value in what you have to offer and be more likely to buy.
Similar to your home page, landing pages and service pages can be the first thing users face when they come to your site.
For that reason, these pages should be optimized for both conversions and SEO. Meaning, they should not be an afterthought and should serve your business as much as any other page on the site.
The difference with these pages is that you will likely be addressing only one topic or pain point, rather than covering a range of benefits like you did on the home page.
You should make it very clear early on what issue you are trying address for your customers/clients, what information can be found on that page and what action they should take to contact you or obtain more information.
A compelling H1 tag is the first step in this process. Like the home page example, it should relate directly to what users are looking for, all while containing the focus keyword for that page, if possible.
Outline the page in a way that encourages users to keep reading and looking for more information. Having a wall of text with little to no organization will leave users yawning, or worse, cause them to bounce off the page.
Your H2 and H3 tags are your best friends here, as they can lead users on that journey through thought-provoking questions, descriptive headings and more. They are also an opportunity for more keyword usage.
Finally, like the home page, you will want to include CTAs (calls to action) throughout and at the bottom of the page. That way, you can catch users at the end of the page if they decide they are ready to contact you.
Your landing and service pages should be well-organized and intentionally written. They are not a place for stuffing keywords, huge blocks of text or obnoxious sales copy. Your main purpose here should be to address a very real struggle or concern your audience has, and then convey how you are a unique and effective solution to that problem.
Many SEO experts and business owners alike make the mistake of using blog posts as filler content. I feel if you are going to spend time or money on a piece of content, it should be working for you in some way. This could be by generating organic traffic, promoting a content upgrade or providing value to your audience.
I am a proponent of longer informative content over short blog posts. Your brand messaging matters a lot here. If your blog posts don’t work cohesively with the rest of your web copy, users will be left feeling confused and even uneasy. If your blog content is disjointed, it makes it harder for your audience to trust your knowledge and feel you are the best fit for them.
Listen to your audience, and create content that answers their queries and addresses their concerns. Even if you aren’t well-versed in SEO, you can still rest easy knowing that this is content your audience wants to read.
Blog posts, if done well, can sell on their own. If you provide enough value, your audience will be enticed to learn more, opt in for a freebie, sign up for your newsletter.
Here are a number of tips to help optimize blog posts:
Overall, your blog posts are another opportunity to relate to your audience, so don’t waste it! By incorporating your brand messaging into your posts, you can address the real concerns of your audience and provide even more value, which helps build trust.
Include your existing SEO strategy, and then your content is better suited for both search engines and your potential customers/clients.
Though an often overlooked aspect of SEO content writing, brand messaging is important when it comes to driving conversions through your web copy.
Your home page, landing pages, and even blog posts are all opportunities to relate to your target audience and convey what your business is really about. It gives them a glimpse into what your business stands for, what it provides, and why you may be the best fit for them.
If your web pages are generating organic traffic but aren’t converting, it could be that you haven’t yet found the right message for your audience. Home in on this, incorporate it into your content, and be in awe of the results.
Want more information on SEO copywriting? Here is a complete guide and checklist for optimizing SEO content.
The post How to drive conversions with on-brand SEO copywriting appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
The post Beyond keywords: What really matters in SEO content appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>
Just when we thought the saying “Content is king” was gone for good, there it goes showing its sneaky little face again in the search engine optimization (SEO) world.
Bearing in mind also that “Content is queen,” it appears that content is, in fact, pretty danged important — so important that a new sub-industry has squeezed its way into the search engine world: SEO content writing.
Otherwise referred to as “SEO copywriting,” SEO content writing has a bad reputation for being chock-full of keywords and little else. Though this may be more of a stereotype than reality, there is something to be said for going beyond keywords to write high-quality content that attracts new customers AND is SEO-friendly.
The focus is typically on “high-quality” content — a term that becomes more subjective by the minute. It leads to questions like
The standard formula of:
keyword research + good writing + on-page SEO = high-quality content
may not be the move anymore. It’s simply not enough. In fact, keywords may be even less important than we all think.
Being consistent with great SEO content writing doesn’t mean it should be formulaic.
Depending too much on robust keyword research and on-page SEO will result in dry content that appeals more to search engines than it does your target audience. Mastering the art of SEO content writing can be the difference between attracting a few website visitors and creating dedicated customers
That all being said, there is a sweet spot between creative content and “content” as we know it. The key lies in going far beyond keyword research and really understanding how words can be used to both attract traffic and drive conversions.
Though this post is all about going beyond keywords, it’s worth addressing what level of keyword research should be done before hopping into content writing. Keywords are still a component of SEO content — but perhaps shouldn’t be as important a component as traditionally thought.
First, your approach to writing new content should fit in with your existing SEO strategy. This should be a no-brainer, but it is a frequent issue I see in SEO content.
For instance, many business owners and SEOs outsource copywriting with little collaboration with the writer on what keywords are to be used. And, even if keywords are provided, it is unlikely that the writer really understands the fundamentals of using keywords in their writing beyond “keyword density.” This results in content that is incohesive and not SEO-friendly.
Second, when it comes to performing keyword research for your new content, look beyond the data. Sure, SEO tools can tell us a lot in terms of search volume and competition level, but can they tell us what content is really engaging to users? Doing a Google search on your target terms and seeing what post titles come up and how many comments and even social shares they get will give you some ideas as to what content is drawing people in and enticing them to engage.
Finally, SEOs and copywriters alike can spend far too much time focusing on terms they think are relevant without stepping back to see the full picture.
Sure, your rankings may increase due to great SEO, but there are many other factors to consider. Is your audience reading through the entire post? Are they sharing it? Are they opting into your calls to action? These elements of your writing should be your main focus. Be sure to have an outline in place, along with your keyword research, to ensure that you aren’t skimming over what matters most: what is going to help you drive conversions.
How often have you had a new content idea pop into your head and instantly put fingers on the keyboard?
As much as I am a fan of writing when you feel inspired, there needs to be a structure for your content from the very beginning. Content that is too “stream-of-consciousness” or unorganized simply doesn’t convert well. There is a difference between having a conversational tone and writing whatever comes into your brain. I’m here to say that there is a way to capture that creative flow, all while putting out content that works.
Create an outline of the potential post or page, including the title and headings. Organize your content into sections that are cohesive and keep the reader interested. Figure out if and where the content fits into your website overall and what purpose it serves. You can even go as far as to decide what internal links will be used. Having a plan will both help in overall organization and ensure that it fits into the framework of your existing site.
One component of SEO content writing that is rarely, if ever, talked about is branding. As more SEO experts become aware of the intersection between SEO and a larger marketing strategy, it becomes apparent how big a role branding plays in a business’s success.
Your website content is no exception. This is why hiring out for copywriting outside of the brand, or even the industry, can be a risky move. For one, you risk having the overall tone of the writing shift and become incohesive with the rest of the brand message, and even the most subtle variations can be picked up by readers.
A good way to ensure that your content is on-brand and stays true to the business message is to utilize language that is used throughout the existing site and marketing materials.
These are all subtleties to look out for that can make all the difference.
A great SEO copywriter will be able to pick up on the tone, vocabulary and message a brand is putting out and capture it in the posts and pages. There should be no question from the target audience who the content came from and what the message is.
On-brand content means that users can come to depend on the brand acting and sounding a certain way. It ultimately comes down to trust. If a user trusts a brand and understands its core mission, then they are more likely to buy.
Integrity and authenticity may seem like “fluffy” words that have no place in the often formulaic world of SEO. But when it comes to writing content that drives more than just traffic (i.e., sales), then these two elements can be the difference between website visitors and paying customers.
There are many SEO and marketing strategies that can drive traffic to a page. What matters is what actions users take once they get there. No amount of strong-arming will convince a user to buy. It takes integrity and authenticity to get them there.
People are becoming more and more aware of shady marketing tactics, and traditional methods of manipulation simply don’t work anymore. A website that makes it clear what the brand’s message is, the service it provides and how it can help potential customers truly has a leg up on the rest. Your content should be authentic, honest and in line with the ethics of your business. Otherwise, you will lose your customers before you even get them.
Creating great SEO content goes beyond writing what you think your target audience wants to read to truly listening to what they want to know.
Are you in tune with their needs? Are there questions in the comments section that should be addressed? Are you writing down their common concerns and pain points? If so, these all open the door to creating solid content that will meet their immediate needs and drive them to seek out your services.
It is not enough to do keyword research to see what they are searching for. If that is the foundation of your content, you are likely to attract some readers but little else. But if you are able to keep them on site longer by creating a vast web of information, you are more likely to get them hooked from start to finish.
Even more, if you engage with them using language they understand and bring up their pain points, you are likely to convince them to fill out that contact form, subscribe or pick up the phone.
If you are struggling to think up fresh and engaging content ideas, be intentional about paying attention to what your customers and potential customers are telling you and asking for. Then, do a quick search to see if any other sites have addressed this issue, and how.
If you aren’t snatching up those opportunities, and another business is, you may be leaving money on the table.
Long-form content can be a bore. For that reason, keeping readers engaged throughout the content can be quite difficult. However, mastering the art of micro-engagement can take your SEO content to the next level.
When it comes to informative content that can be a bit of a yawn, it’s a good move to try some different tactics to keep users engaged. Micro-engagement, as I refer to it here, means incorporating elements in your content to keep readers clicking, scrolling and reading more.
This is where a solid understanding of your target audience really comes into play. You should have a sense of what kind of content keeps your audience engaged. Testing different approaches and looking at the results can be a great data-driven method for seeing what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some suggestions to boost micro-engagement:
Incorporate a few of these ideas into your SEO content and see the difference. Over time, you will get a sense of what your audience likes, what keeps them engaged and what entices them to perform certain actions on your site. This list is by no means exhaustive; feel free to get creative with it and see what happens!
“Freshness” usually refers to having fresh new content on your website, but I believe this should extend beyond that. In other words, you should be putting unique ideas out into the world. How do you do that? By making competitive analysis a part of your SEO content strategy.
Scroll through any SEO or digital marketing site, and you are likely to find the basic posts and pages: “What is SEO?,” “Why You Should Hire an SEO Expert” and the like saturate these sites, and these topics are covered ad nauseam.
What these sites, and others outside of the SEO industry, fail to do is proper competitive analysis when coming up with new content ideas. That is, they are rewriting and reworking the same content that their competitors are using. This is not a good move.
What takes businesses to the top is looking at what competitors are doing and doing it better. Sometimes this even means doing something different. Whenever you are about to write a new piece of content, look to see what your competitors are doing, and consider how you can take it up a notch.
Your best approach is to stay ahead of the curve.
You simply can’t create great SEO content without looking at the data.
With a vast array of tools, SEOs and business owners alike should be looking to see what content is performing well, and why. They should be tracking conversions everywhere users are performing an action and seeing what works. This data will indicate the kind of content they can and should create in the future.
Staying on top of your analytics will not only show you the numbers in terms of traffic, but time on page, bounce rate and other valuable metrics that indicate how your content is performing. Through these, you can learn from your mistakes and imitate the strategies that are working. Without this knowledge, you are essentially flying blind and are again playing the guessing game.
Following the data throughout the process will help ensure that you are on the right track and that your utilization of the above principles is working for your business.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to SEO content, but the fundamentals are still there. Write content for people, structure it for search engines and create an experience that is engaging and bound to drive the traffic you deserve.
The post Beyond keywords: What really matters in SEO content appeared first on Search Engine Land.]]>