Google is constantly throwing new animals at us like penguins, pandas and hummingbirds.
The result is that many have pronounced the death of SEO, and keep telling us all to forget about pleasing Google!
Don’t listen to these people. SEO is far from dead. It just changes. And you just have to know what works.
So in this post I want to show you why SEO is still important to you, and how you can still do SEO and benefit from Google for many years to come.
Why SEO is still important
There are a lot of places you could be getting traffic to your website from.
There is social media, your email list, forums, Youtube, referrals from other bloggers and a whole bunch more. But, one of the biggest sources of traffic to most websites is still search engines (aka Google).
People use search engines like Google more than almost any site on the internet (except perhaps Facebook). In fact, I dare you to count how often you search for something each day!
And when people are searching for something on Google, it is usually to
- Find information
- Solve a problem
- Research or buy a product
Many of these reasons are perfect opportunities for you to get traffic and customers. These searchers are highly motived people you can bring to your website to learn from you, and potentially buy something.
This is especially true if you target the right keywords.
It all begins with the right keywords
The foundation of any successful SEO campaign is keyword research.
When you are writing a blog post, it always pays to see what kinds of keywords you could be ranking for, before you start hammering out those words.
To put it simply, if you are going to write something, you might as well include the words that people search for on that topic as well. Two birds. One stone.
And once you have learnt how to do it, it does not take that long, and the benefits can be huge!
Doing the keyword research
The simplest and cheapest way to do keyword research is with the Google Keyword Planner. This tool gives you insights into what words and phrases people are actually searching for, and approximately how often per month.
Although these numbers are not as accurate as Google would have you believe, they are the best indication we have of where we can get traffic from.
All you need to do is input some ideas (like what you are writing about) and Google will show you similar words that are being searched for. Awesome, huh!
Never used Google Keyword Planner? Then I recommend you check out this post to help getting started with it. It’s actually pretty easy.
Another option, if you want a more powerful tool to speed up the keyword research process, is Long Tail Pro (aff).
Finding the money
As you go about choosing your keywords, you also need to keep another important idea in mind – commercial intent, or buyer keywords.
The main idea is that in order to earn money with search engine traffic you want to target keywords that people use when they are ready to buy. Not keywords that are used for fun, fact finding and so on.
So instead of writing a post like “How to Write an Amazing Blog Post”, you would instead write “The Best Blogging Tools To Help Promote Your Posts” (presuming “Best Blogging Tools” had traffic).
Why would you do this? Because this post allows you to sell to people who are looking for tools to help them solve a problem: Promoting their posts.
Of course you shouldn’t always write blog posts selling stuff, as you would quickly lose your audience. But when you do, make sure you have found the right keywords.
Tip: Here is a more detailed post on this idea which will help you understand what to do when looking for such buyer keywords.
Is content still king?
Let’s be clear here, by mentioning content in a post about SEO I’m not saying that content marketing and SEO are the same thing because they’re not. They do complement each other very well though.
And you have probably heard this all over the internet:
Content is King.
And since Bill Gates uttered these words so many years ago a lot of others have echoed the same words, but….
It is not so simple, as you probably know.
Many people will interpret this idea of “content is king” to mean any of the following:
- write more content
- write more often
- write popular content
- just write anything
But more than anything else, you need to produce content that matters. Content that people will bookmark, link to and share.
Quality content is the President, actually
There you have it, my new quote on the content topic.
What do I mean by this statement?
Well, focusing on quality is one of the best ways you can get ahead of the competition. Because quality has so many great benefits.
First and foremost, your readers will love you for it.
And by producing the best content around, you will also get
- More social shares
- More comments
- More email subscribers
- And more links
So you should always aim to produce the best blog posts you can.
Be more creative, more informative, more thorough and even more entertaining.
Just be better than the rest.
Produce amazing quality.
Quality impresses Google
From an SEO perspective quality is also important because Google is measuring it.
I know the idea of “measuring quality” is kind of hard to believe.
But it’s true, they can measure quality in many ways. In fact, Panda is one of the updates Google rolled out over the past few years that is specifically focused on quality.
To quote Search Engine Land:
Google’s Panda Update is a search filter introduced in February 2011 meant to stop sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.
So sites with poor quality articles and pages, have slowly disappeared from the best spots on Google. And it will stop you from ranking on Google too!
If you read some of the best SEO tips on things to help you rank you will see such quality related items as:
- Content length (longer, more informative and detailed content ranks higher)
- Linking to quality content (link out to authorities in your niche)
- Multimedia (add images and video, especially Youtube – it’s owned by Google)
- References and Citations (quality content is well researched)
- Low Bounce Rate (people staying longer on your site is important)
Although Google cannot “read” your content exactly, they can measure its quality in many different ways.
So always keep these quality factors in mind when creating a post, because those extra touches can make all the difference to your SEO.
SEO is in your control
You have probably read a bunch of posts about On Page SEO before. However, I want to briefly cover this topic to make sure you know what exactly you should be paying attention to.
Why? Because this is one of the main areas in SEO that you have total control over, and it can really help you rank in Google.
On top of that, On Page SEO is actually pretty easy, especially once you get the hang of it.
Amazing Fact: On Page SEO is sometimes enough to get your post on the first page of Google without any specific link building. Especially if your keyword research is done right (i.e. low competition keywords).
That said, for the more competitive keywords link building becomes more important as backlinks are still an important part of Google’s algorithm.
So make sure you at least do this for every page and post. It’s worth it.
On page SEO you should do every time
The following is a quick breakdown of the areas on posts that you should be paying attention to every time you hit publish.
Let’s start at the top of the page and work our way down:
The URL should:
- Be relatively short (say 5 or 6 words max)
- Include your keywords
- Not include useless words (a, the, and etc. )
- Not be a sentence
This plays a couple of roles in SEO because it is your post title and appears on Google results pages, so:
- Include your keywords if it makes sense (see next point)
- Use it to capture attention (for social media and search)
- Remember to keep it below 55-60 characters if possible (otherwise it gets cut off on search results)
On some occasions, Google may completely alter your post title for you. This won’t always happen so it’s still worth including.
No one will see this on the actual blog post, but it is these few sentences that people read on a Google search result.
- Include your keywords if it makes sense
- Summarize your post and make it sound enticing/useful
- Keep it below 155 characters
Similar to meta descriptions, Google may choose it’s own meta description in some cases but it’s still worth including, more for the fact that you can entice users to click through and read your content.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a ranking factor for Google but when you optimize your meta description for clicks, that can send a positive signal to Google.
But remember you need to ensure your content delivers on what your meta description promises. Otherwise it would lead to a high bounce rate which would be considered a negative quality signal.
Going beyond checklist SEO
There are plenty of other on page SEO factors to consider. I can’t hope to cover them in sufficient depth in this post, I could write a book on it.
There is already some fantastic information out there that is up to date with current trends. I recommend you check out this post by Rand Fishkin over on Moz.com – it’s a great read.
Before moving on, it’s worth considering where things are headed with keywords, on page SEO and more to the point – what you need to know.
Keywords are still needed but primarily from a research perspective and to get the basic on page SEO right but you should always write your content without worrying too much about SEO (this ensures that you stay focused on the important thing – your readers).
It helps to think more in terms of topics and how you can optimize the user experience rather than focusing too heavily on keywords. This is especially helpful when it comes to planning your content which in turn makes things like lead generation and building your email list much easier.
Marcus Tober explains this approach in more detail in this post (note: it’s an advanced post but it will lead to gaining some incredible insight).
The bottom line is this – whatever you do with on page SEO, you must ensure that user experience is your primary focus.
Tip: WordPress users should use a plugin like Yoast’s WordPress SEO to help with some of the above (like removing useless words from URLs, counting characters in titles etc).
The goose that laid the golden links
Now this is where SEO voodoo comes into play. Link building!
I know most website owner’s steer clear of this stuff, but please read on…
We have all heard of link building, and probably tried it at some point in our blogging careers. It is the toughest part of any SEO work you can do.
Although things are slowly changing in SEO, links are still one of the most important ranking factors in search. (ie. they get you to the top of Google)
However, rather than focus on how you would go about doing the job of an SEO, I want to let you in on a little secret that might get you some well deserved links without any SEO magic.
This is another overused word in the online marketing and blogging world. You have probably heard it many times before:
Create epic content
Yeah, thanks. That really helps! Let me just get out my “epic content machine”.
To be honest, epic content is not something that is only found in fairy tales. You can create it too.
The problem most people have with it, even if they know what it means, is it takes time and effort (like this post – 2400 words or more).
So most people take the easy route, write another 500 words post, and wonder why no one cares.
Short posts are ok, every now and again, but it is the epic stuff that will get you noticed. Get you links. And make a huge difference in your blogging career.
Some epic content tips
Epic content is within the reach of every blogger, and here are some concrete ideas to help you create some too:
- Write a more detailed version of something popular in your niche (it’s always possible to do better)
- Be sure to include lots of images, videos, examples, links to authority sites
- Detailed case studies always work very well as people like to learn from real examples
- Teach people something in extreme detail (with images, videos, worksheets, checklists and more)
- Even collections of amazing content can be popular, but add more detail or supplementary info than most people do
There are a lot of ideas you can use to create something big, helpful, detailed and ultimately epic. In fact, if you want some examples, just read the other amazing stuff posted by Adam on this very blog.
In fact, one of his recent posts on a content creation chat he had on SEM Rush Twitter Chat is well worth checking out.
If you want other examples, see what is making it to the top of the charts in your niche.
Another often forgotten key to success in blogging, is building relationships within your niche.
No blogger is an island
I think Tom Hanks said that?
I personally like to do almost everything myself. And I have a tendency to keep to myself. But, it is when I have connected with others, and formed relationships within my niche that I have seen the most amazing results. Like a post I did that featured 10 Pinterest experts, and now has over 2000 pins! That would not have happened if I did not know most of those people.
How else do you think people get so far, so fast in the world? Relationships matter.
But how does this help with link building and SEO?
Here are some of the potential benefits of great relationships online:
- People you know are more likely to share your content
- It is easier to get guest posting opportunities (I’ve known Adam for quite a while)
- When bloggers need to link to content on a topic, they usually link to authorities and people they know
- You will get more opportunities in general (podcasts, group interviews, personal interviews)
Many of the best opportunities I have had in the last year have come from people I know, or people who have seen my stuff around (because it is spread by powerful people I know).
It’s the seeds you sow today, that will bear amazing fruit in the future! So get out there and connect.
Relationships take time and effort, but in the long run this is one of the things that will make the biggest difference in your blogging career. And in you SEO!
Tip: If you are just starting out and do not know who the medium to most powerful people are in your niche, then use some influencer research tools like InkyBee to find out.
Back to the future
This post has shown you why you should care about SEO.
But more importantly, I hope it has shown you how you can benefit from SEO without having to be an SEO guru.
If you have never done On Page SEO or keyword research before, I recommend you start with those. They will help you achieve a lot more with the content you create.
For those a bit more advanced, think about an amazing piece of content that only you could write. And make it better than anything else out there.
And start connecting with other bloggers and influencers in your niche today. Just send them a tweet, or a nice email complimenting them on a great post!
Your SEO will start skyrocketing before you know it!