Having the ability to earn income wherever you are is increasingly important in this fast changing world.
Last week our webmaster, David Cross, began the discussion of How to be #1 at Google and today shares the next part of his discussion on gaining top placements in Google for your business.
In our article last week So You Want to be #1 at Google? I shared with you the last-part-first of what to do with the traffic you generate from a concerted effort on search engine optimization (SEO).
But how do you actually get to the top spots on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc?
The secret of getting to #1 on Google reminds me of the secret of The Dragon Scroll as revealed to Po the Panda (AKA The Dragon Warrior) in the film Kung Fu Panda. Here’s a short clip:
And the million dollar secret is…there is no secret. YOU are the secret. That doesn’t mean that there’s no method, but the fact is, SEO is much more about finding your business niche and then creating content within that niche than any magic formula of keywords or submitting your website to search engines.
Back in 1995 when I first started using search engines to market (and before then on CompuServe and bulletin boards) it was a different story. You could pretty much create a website or web page about anything, stuff it full of keywords in hidden “META” tags and push that website and web pages to the top of a search engine without much trouble.
And many did.
Attorneys created websites filled with porn-related keywords for websites offering legal services. They generated a top ranking on search engines and drove a lot of – largely useless – traffic to their websites.
Roll ahead a few years and Google, Yahoo, et. al. are constantly attempting to thwart attempts to manipulate search engine results artificially through the use of search engine spamming techniques or “Black Hat SEO”. While a number of these techniques may work in the short-term, using them is likely to get you blocked from using them once you’re found out. And getting back into a search engine once you’re barred is a right royal fight.
Here is a short guide to getting you on the right path to SEO success.
1: Your Niche
The first component to SEO that you’ll need to gain rankings is a niche. It doesn’t have to be a new niche. You may be able to get a #1 Google ranking for terms like “Teaching Your Ferret to Ice Skate”, Learning Underwater “Basket Weaving” or “Over Niagara in a Tea Cup” but the reality is that you’ll get very little search traffic from these terms and anyone searching for such nearly nutcase niche terms is unlikely to convert to become a good customer.
Would it be easy to feature in Google for those terms? Yes? Is it recommended? Hey, it’s a free country and your time is your own…
Suppose your niche is trout fishing. You’ll want to create articles about trout fishing. But you notice that a search for trout fishing on Google brings up 8.82 million results. How do you get to the top of those results?
Possible, but it requires a lot of work.
My recommendation is to start with the 2nd element…
2: What Are You Selling?
Why is it you want to rank #1 in Google in the first place? Posterity? I rank high in Google for David Cross voiceover and David Cross voice over but I did that as part of my SEO efforts building my rankings for my business as a British voiceover artist.
If your business is trout fishing, what is the niche within that? Are you a guide? Do you produce lures or custom-built rods? Do you offer cures and seasonings for anglers who want to cook or preserve their catch?
What products or services are you selling?
Ultimately the reason why you want the #1 search engine listing is to generate relevant traffic to build your prospects and customer database. It makes sense to drill-down into your overall niche to find the smaller parts of that (marketers call this your “vertical within your market”).
What will emerge here is that the effort of targeting the very broad keyword of trout fishing is almost certainly not worth the effort unless you are Cabelas in which case please re-read point #2 and find the niches within the overall trout fishing market and instead target those.
Targeting customers within a broad/horizontal market is difficult and costly.
3: Build A Master Content/Key Word List
Now that you have your niche a little clearer now, the next step is to decide what you’re going to write about. Although it’s possible to sit down and on a whim write about whatever you feel like, you won’t generate the same SEO results.
I recommend you start a Master Keyword List (MKL) where you write down your niche and then start to look at the keyword and key phrases that stem from that niche.
Let’s assume that you got from trout fishing into Oregon Trout Fishing Guide and that your goal is to target bank (rather than boat) fly fishing anglers who want a guide in the Oregon High Desert area.
That’s a fairly tight niche.
You may want to write down all the rivers in that geographic area like the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers.
Next write down the best fishing spots on those rivers.
Where are the best places to eat? Stay? Closest airports? Record catches? Family fishing trips? Honeymoon fishing trips?
Start to build-out your MKL and keep adding to it.
These are the articles and topic areas you’ll be covering in your articles and SEO strategy. The MKL gives you a focus with which to attack your niche content creation and helps you always focus on your niche when creating that content rather than just “sitting down to write”.
4a: “But I Can’t Write!”
Creating niche content is an essential component of your SEO strategy but the task of actually doing it – of writing regular content in your niche – can seem overwhelming when you are starting out or creating your weekly, bi-weekly or even (gulp) daily articles. (Gary’s written at least 1 and often 2 or 3, quality articles every day since this website launched in 1999.)
You may be the best trout fishing guide this side of the Steens Mountains but writing may make you quake with fear in your waders.
Fear not! If you “can’t write” there are options. First, learning to write is a good skill to acquire and there are courses that show you how. Gary’s running one this summer.
My wife, Cinda, for example is a truly brilliant veterinarian and gifted animal healer with a lively rapport with all her clients and their owners, but the thought of sitting down to write about it fills her with dread.
“Then don’t write,” I said. “Speak.” If you’ve ever spoken with her about your pet you know how caring, warm, friendly and knowledgeable she is.
What she could do is to have me ask her about common cat or dog health-related questions and we record, then transcribe it. It’s possible some pet owners wouldn’t mind her recording their conversations, and she could later remove the names, using generic pet names if necessary.
Or you could have someone interview you about the best trout fishing spots on the Deschutes River or you could interview fellow anglers and record them or…use your imagination. Reach out and make your articles useful. You could call the University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and ask for an interview on the lifecycle of ocean-going trout (Steelhead) or…?
Have someone transcribe this or use Casting Words or Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service.
This is a quick way to create niche content. Whether written or spoken, the content you create as well as being attractive to search engines must also pass…
5: The Bar Stool Test
The Bar Stool Test? It’s not difficult to write an article containing the right components to getting you to #1 on Google, but if that is an onerous and turgid read for your website visitor you just wasted that top search ranking.
The Bar Stool Test means simply, if the guy next to you at the bar starting telling this story, would you listen, gleaning pearls of wisdom, or could you want to quickly get away?
- Captivating a search engine is mathematical
- Captivating a person is emotional
Your search-optimized, niche content must also engage people enough to want to do business with you.
6: Have in Mind the Next Step
Last week we discussed the importance of moving your website visitor to the next step in your sales cycle. Bear this in mind when you create your article. For example if you want someone to sign-up for a free report on trout fishing in the Oregon High Desert, invite them to sign up. Or if your last tour sold out, start a wait list and invite them to sign up for that.
Make a point to your article. Use it to rank well in search engines and convert the interest of visitors.
7: That’s It?
Yes…not quite. Next week we’ll share the important aspects of getting your content to rank well.
I didn’t start this series with the techniques on how to rank well because it’s more important at the outset to understand what to do with the traffic you are driving to your website and to make sure that you aren’t putting monkeys in front of virtual typewriters in the hopes of recreating Shakespeare.
Next Wednesday, we’ll look at how to massage your articles to give them the best chance of getting to that seemingly elusive top spot on Google. David Cross