Tag Archive | "SEO Copywriting"

How to be #1 at Google – Part II


So You Want to be #1 at Google?  by David Cross

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David Cross

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2oXmh3xxdI

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”.

4: Write!

Erm…

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?

Remember this:

  • 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

So You Want to be #1 at Google?


So You Want to be #1 at Google? by David Cross

Having the ability to earn income wherever you are is in increasingly important in this fast changing world.

In today’s article our webmaster, David Cross, shares some ideas on gaining top placements in Google for your business…and what to do with the traffic this generates.

Of all the questions I am asked about online marketing perhaps the most common question over the years is how to gain a #1 placement on Google. My answer is in 2 parts – the second part of which is, “How to be number 1 on Google?”.

Getting to the first place in the search results on Google – or any search engine for that matter – isn’t that difficult.  And even if you are targeting highly competitive terms, the principles are constant. There are a few core elements your site should have and, depending on what business you are in and what search terms you are trying to gain a placement for, it’s generally a matter of time and everyday spadework before the pages at your website start to feature as relevant in the search results for a particular search term.

Every online business wants to know about search engine optimization (SEO) because a #1 Google placement means people will see your website and hopefully click through to your web pages. But SEO is not the singularly most important aspect to running an online business, and in fact, it’s only part of the equation of SEO itself.

The mantra inside Kevin Costner’s head in the film Field of Dreams was, “If you build it, he will come.” Getting your #1 placement on Google may give you the best chance of their coming to your website but before we discuss how to get to #1…the secrets of how to get good placements in search engine results.  We’ll share the more important aspect of when your prospect clicks through from Google, what happens next?

Assuming that you’re running a website for business purposes rather than as a hobby, getting someone to click your link from Google and driving them to your website is of little use if when they arrive they read your article and leave without taking any further action. You want people to do something…buy something…sign up for a newsletter or call your company.

The problem is that so many websites focus on getting that #1 Google placement that they overlook what to do with the increased traffic from these referrals.

Before showing you how to get the top spot, I’ll show you what to do with it.

This is what marketers refer to as conversion which simply mean moving your prospect along to the next step in the sales or business cycle from where they are at that point. (It can also refer to reducing refunds, but for this example we’re referring to making a sale).

You may run a virtual (wholly online) business or you may have a website to support your offline bricks and mortar business. A few examples may be:

  • An electrician who wants to promote his business locally for home and business rewiring
  • An online company promoting scuba diving holidays in the Mediterranean
  • A horse trainer who wants to promote his services
  • An interior designer
  • A personal fitness trainer
  • etc…

This is a typical, fairly diverse bunch of businesses which may employ a website and SEO to build business exposure online.

Most websites have a “contact us” page.  Perhaps they see that is the only thing required to generate business and that if someone is really interested they can use that as the means to get in touch. But experience and testing shows that people often need more than contact details and may not yet be ready to make contact, possibly fearing that they may be implying some sort of commitment before they are ready to make that commitment. Very often people don’t know what the next step is or fear they don’t know what questions to ask so are nervous about getting in touch.

Planning What You Want to Happen

Each of our sample businesses described above need to consider the action that they want their prospects to take.  When the prospects visit their website, it is important to have planned for an action to occur. While it’s simple to simply say, “We want our prospect to make contact and book an appointment,” we know that a person may not be ready to do that. And if all we do is to ask for people to contact us, if they’re not ready to do that and we offer no other opportunity at that moment, it’s less likely that we’ll be able to convert the person’s interest into a sale down the road. Indeed, they may just bail from your website and perhaps forget which website they were looking at when it comes time for them to make a purchase.

I’ve observed this in many online and offline marketing campaigns where business and websites offer a product for sale with no other option if the person is not yet ready to purchase and hence no sale is made and the prospect is gone. You know it may take you a few visits to a website or some additional research before you are ready to make a purchase…especially a major purchase.

One thing each of our online businesses may wish to test is offering additional, free information on the same web page that traffic is driven to but that requires the visitor to exchange their contact info (normally their email address).  This can often be in the format of a free report, a white paper, a sheet offering helpful pointers and next steps or questions to ask before you move ahead. All of these display further knowledge on a topic, portray you as an expert and offer something useful to  website visitors without forcing them to make a major commitment at that moment.

If we consider our sample businesses and how this idea relates to them we may come up with something along the lines of:

  • The electrician: A free guide, “Choosing an electrician. 10 questions to ask yourself about your next electrical project”
  • The scuba diving company:  A free report, “The top 10 diving spots in the Mediterranean” or “A guide to the sea-life beneath the Mediterranean”
  • A horse trainer: A free guide on “10 gentle ways to make your horse more obedient”
  • An interior designer: A guide, “You know you want to redecorate but are stuck for ideas…here’s how to get started.”
  • A personal fitness trainer: “A Fast 5 Minute Workout to Get Started” (with video)
  • etc…

You could offer these guides as a free download which you’ll email people for leaving their email address. Write these yourself or if you dislike writing, you may wish to record, then transcribe, your answers to your customers’ questions. In the case of the scuba diving company, you may wish to find a fish biologist or conservationist to write part of the guide.  You could let then provide their expert knowledge on the aquatic life of the Mediterranean. Many experts are more than happy to do this! As they share their knowledge and expertise, you gain the additional benefit of involving a credible third party to your website and to what you are offering.

Inside the guide you can add your contact details. Normally you’d want to follow-up with people who requested the guide, perhaps to see if they need any additional information or to add an 11th tip that didn’t (intentionally) make it into the guide.

These guides are one way of converting those who have an interest into customers.  Over the years I’ve helped many businesses employ this idea of using free guides or reports.  This has resulted in helping convert website traffic and subsequently converting that interest into sales.

The free guides help establish you as an expert and help convert what would otherwise be an anonymous website visitor onto the next step of the sales cycle.

Next Wednesday, we’ll look at how to get that elusive top spot on Google.