September 16, 2016
It’s not easy getting your site to attract organic search visitors. Not only do you have to ensure that you target the correct audience with every piece of your content, but you also have to ensure that said audience is going to be able to find your post in the search rankings.
Simply put, if you’re not on the first page (or the top spot), then that means either Google doesn’t like your SEO strategy, or you need to try harder.
At our business, we’ve lost countless nights of sleep thinking and rethinking how to both attract the correct audience and ensure that we’re getting as much coverage as possible. We’re a fairly small remote team, so we need to be sure that our efforts will pay off before we start doing anything.
Hence, through trial by fire, we’ve honed our content marketing processes to a polished shine. The result: 50,000 monthly organic search visitors. Far from us to keep these a secret though — hopefully the following four marketing systems will give you some insight as to how you can improve your own efforts.
Any average Joe with an Internet connection can log and, plug a few keywords into Google Keyword Planner and walk away with the term they want to target. Unfortunately, half the time this will result in destroying any chance you one had of ranking well for a decent term.
The main issue here is that you can’t just consider a keyword’s volume and difficulty at face value. Your keyword research process needs to factor in the context in which you will be using the term, the resources you can afford to put into ranking for it, and the intent behind someone searching it.
For example, the monthly search volume of a keyword can be low (let’s say, 300 rather than the top result’s 1,000) and still bring in more useful traffic than a higher volume term. This is down to the intent and context of the volume; the content you produce needs to be relevant to the intent of the audience searching the term, and it also needs to be head-and-shoulders above the current results.
Likewise, the difficulty of a keyword means a little less if the volume and intent of the term are high, and your content is good enough to warrant the resources required to rank for it. If your site has a higher domain authority or you are easily able to generate some backlinks, difficulty can also be wavered.
We judge the intent behind our potential keywords by considering the current top results for the term and using common sense. If someone is searching “what is content marketing,” they’re not likely going to react well to a post selling them marketing software.
Quality Content Writing
It may sound like a no-brainer, but if you’re not producing quality content regularly, you won’t be able to attract as many organic visitors. This is mainly due to two factors; content which is more valuable than any of the current top search results will have a higher engagement and therefore rank better, and quality content is going to more easily receive backlinks.
Think about it; if you were trying to write a post on employee onboarding, you’d want to only read, use and link to the best resources. Knowing that, we endeavor to make every piece of content we publish unique or valuable in one way or another. We always (and I mean always) run our pre-publish checklist for every post. This ensures that our links are correct, our formatting is consistent, our keywords are targeted and our search description is filled.
Having and running this kind of process is vital because you need a consistent level of high quality content to gain more traction. After all, remember that the more of your posts which do well and generate traffic and backlinks, the more your site’s native authority will increase. This will, in turn, make it easier for you to rank your posts well (and get even more organic traffic) or even target some of the more valuable contested keywords.
Producing quality content is all well and good, but you need to be able to generate backlinks reliably on your own terms for any significant results. The answer to this problem? Guest posting.
By making content which appears on other sites (such as the very article you’re reading) you can provide a number of backlinks to your content and boost its ranking. However, in order to do so, you need to apply the same principles as you do when producing your native content.
Our rule of thumb is that if we wouldn’t accept a post on our own site, we don’t pitch it to another. For one thing, you’re unlikely to have many of your pitches accepted if they have no unique value, but if you do get a couple pushed through that are low quality, you’ll only serve to alienate other potential candidates by sullying your name and brand.
In much the same way, when guest posting you need to avoid being overly self-promotional. One or two links back to your own content isn’t too bad (if they’re relevant, that is), but share the love and provide some links to the other content of the site you’re posting on. Trust me, it’ll go a long way to fostering a healthy relationship between your brand and other sites.
E-mail outreach is a massive opportunity for backlinks which many waste for no good reason. Ours typically consists of two kind of outreach; e-mails to the sources we mention in our content and others to sites which could benefit from including our valuable content in their resource bucket.
For example, if we were to write a post about SEO and mention Brian Dean (because, really, who wouldn’t mention him when talking about SEO) we would send an email to him to let him know that we loved the content, and have included it in one of our posts. Providing your sources with this alert (along with a link to the post and maybe even a tweet that they could use about it) can give you some easy coverage to their audience, giving yet another boost to your content.
We also make a point to keep an eye out for good posts which could benefit from having a link back to our content to support their own. If we find a broken link, for example, we’ll take the time to send a friendly e-mail to tell the blog that the old link is broken, and provide our own link with a summary of the article as a potential replacement.
There you have it; the four marketing systems which have fueled our rise in organic search traffic. What do you think? Do you have any systems you swear by? I’d love to hear what you have to say on the topic!
Benjamin Brandall is the head of content marketing at Process Street, where he writes on SaaS, productivity, and startups. He appears on TechCrunch, The Next Web and Fast Company.