A highly effective model for driving traffic to a website comes from search engine optimization expert Rand Fishkin. Here are the essentials.
Four steps to successful SEO
- Content. From the outset, the foundation of all web success is the provision of engaging and accessible content. It needs to be of high quality and it has to be accessible to search engine bots (so, no prohibited access by cookies, robots.txt or poor URL architecture, and minimal errors so that it is free from error codes 404, 500 and 302). Once the content meets these criteria, the next step is keyword focus
- Keywords. When individuals enter certain words into Google, they are looking for something specific; they have an intent. To establish what that intent is, thorough research is required – this is the first step in the keyword phase of search engine optimization. Keyword optimization also involves calculating the ROI (return on investment) – the aim is to find the keywords that lead to good ranking results on the search page thereby optimizing the ROI. Next, the keywords must be targeted – get them into the title of the piece, into the URL and into the links pointing to it, as well as in the body of the content. With keyword optimization completed, it is time to move on to links
- Links. It is important to be clear about link building: there are different types. For example, manual link building and the more scalable varieties, such as link-focused content, or link incentivizing, where incentives are built in to encourage customers, members of the community, bloggers and journalists to link to the site. Links help with ranking for the keywords chosen – if a site does not have enough good quality links, it either will not get ranked very well, or it won’t get indexed effectively
- Social features. This does not only refer to link baiting or using social network accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Dig, MySpace, etc., to carry a site’s links. The Social phase also requires social features to be added to a site – the elements that a content supplier adds to a site to engage visitors. When a site has good social engagement features, it earns the links, is spidered and will be used more. This is what sometimes causes a site to go ‘viral’, becoming publicized through word of mouth to the extent that visitor numbers soar dramatically.
Beginning with the solid foundation of high quality, accessible content, and culminating in the social features phase, this four-phase process is visualized in the SEO Pyramid
Given that top quality content is the bedrock of any effective SEO strategy, getting the content strategy right is crucial.
What you want to achieve
Positive results appear for websites when they are ranked according to mid-tail and long-tail keywords. To achieve this, the content must grow sufficiently to attract these kinds of search. That means more pages containing very useful information.
Assess what you want to achieve. Are engagement goals the priority, or sales goals (driving more people to the product), or, if the site is advertising-based, raw traffic goals (getting more people to click on the ads). A good many B2Bs have worked out that by increasing their content, including their white papers, blogs and research material, they attract more visits. And more visits, a little further down the path, means more conversions.
Regular news pieces and blogs not only tend to build a regular audience, they encourage frequent indexing of the site by search engine bots, and enhance long-tail search (see our feature, “How daily news and blog posts drive traffic”). A site can also build valuable authority by including evergreen pieces along with regularly updated, fresh content. Over time, evergreen pieces build search ranking for specific keyword phrases (take a look at our feature “How evergreen content drives traffic” for more information). And do not underestimate the value of video content – it can be used to build a cult following and long tail search through alternatives to Google, such as YouTube.
Once the goals have been clarified, it is essential to work out which keywords will work best to realize them. They need to be reflected as naturally as possible in every piece of content on the site. For more help with this vital process take a look at our feature, “How to find keywords”
Outsourcing content creation
But how can content be scaled up without the in-house resources to do it? The answer lies in outsourcing content creation. Professional outsourcing is preferable to making a frantic attempt to produce content in-house if the resources, including highly skilled copywriters, simply are not there. By using a professional content specialist like Purecontent, you can rest assured that the work you commission will be of the best quality, and it will be delivered quickly.