5 Building Blocks for Strong SEO
In another article, I spoke with you about the need to focus on quality vs. quantity in lead generation efforts. While the quantity of inexpensive leads associated with high volume sources may seem enticing, there are downstream affects that can be catastrophic to a business: invalid copy testing, muddy reporting, and deliverability issues, to name a few.
What if I told you that you could bring in leads that are two to three times more valuable than Adwords or Facebook names without much more of an investment in staff or content? Would you jump on that? I hope so!
What I’m talking about today is nothing new: Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What astounds me, however, is that very few of the dozens of businesses I work with worldwide even consider SEO as part of their marketing war chest!
AIM latestly created the position of SEO Account Manager to help address this problem. Our SEO guru, Colm O’Sullivan, is currently working with two businesses on their organic efforts. He can help you too… whether it’s an audit of your existing efforts, a detailed SEO marketing plan, or a long term SEO initiative. Just reach out!
Recently, I gave a presentation to 50 or so direct response marketers from around the globe. My goal in that presentation, and in today’s space, is to convey the 5 building blocks for strong foundation in SEO. As I always say, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. But I guarantee that if you put these 5 fundamental techniques into place you will be getting more SEO derived names one year from now!
Five Building Blocks for Strong SEO
- Goals: While not solely a component of SEO, goals are crucial to understanding anything that happens in a direct response business. How can we test if we don’t know what we are testing? How can we refine if we don’t have a baseline to measure against?
For many publishers in our space, the primary goals of an SEO driven website would be: How many leads am I bringing in and/or how many paid sales am I bringing in? With our goals in mind, we need to set up tracking. Fortunately, Google Analytics allows us to set up these goals quickly and easily. That said, it’s still quite surprising how many people do not have goals set up. Check it today, it’s a quick and easy win.
Now that purposes and goals have been defined, we’re ready to set a baseline right? Wrong? Far too many marketers fall into the trap of looking at all the traffic to their website as organic traffic when really it could be just a small portion of the pie mixed in with direct traffic and referrals. Fortunately, our friends over at Threefold Systems have developed a nifty little plugin that will allow you to apply a unique source code to organically derived traffic. With this in place, only now can we understand the volume of organic leads and the ultimate lifetime value of these leads.
Baseline set… lets move on to SEO building block number 2.
- Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools): Register your site with Google inside of the Google Search Console. For those of you using WordPress, which I suspect may be the majority of our readers, there are a number of plugins that allow you to create an XML sitemap of your content… Yoast SEO is my favorite. Once your XML sitemap is in place, submit it to Google inside the Search Console. XML sitemaps allow Google to more easily understand the structure of your site and crawl the appropriate URLs for indexing. If your website is a building, the sitemap would be the blueprint.
The Google Search Console also provides a number of other useful tools. You see search phrases that resulted in a click to your site, sites that link to you, how useable your site is on a mobile device, the list goes on. Once you’ve registered your site with Google, check the Google Search Console at least once a week to gauge the health of your website.
I almost forgot about Bing… register your site there as well.
- Google News: Google launched its news platform 10 years ago. I hope you’ve used it by now… just click on the News tab after you search and you’ll find a treasure trove of articles from vetted sources.
In Google News, the likelihood of your article appearing near the top for any search phrase is very much based on recency and clicks. Pick any hot topic in the news, write a series of five articles on that topic with headlines that drive clicks, and I guarantee you will be beating out the likes of WSJ.com and FT.com for the coveted first position. The first few Google news results also appear on the Google Search tab, above the standard organic listings.
To get started with Google News you’ll need another XML sitemap specifically for news articles. Fortunately, Yoast, the plugin I mentioned above, will generate this sitemap for you! Once this is in place, review the guidelines for Google News and register here.
- Category and Tag Verticals: The majority of todays content management systems have the concept of categories and tags for content. Categories would represent the overarching key concepts you consistently write about. In a nutshell, the categories are the content ‘pillars’ of your business. Tags are more granular. They can represent subsets of a category or something outside your category pillars altogether. Content management systems can display Category and Tag archives right out of the box and Google considers these as authoritative pages on most subjects. Leverage this by: including a static, 500-word category or tag description at the top of these pages, as well as entice the reader to sign up with a report inline with the tag or category page they’ve visited. One business I work with did this latestly, and doubled their email signup rate.
- Content: An effective SEO strategy always includes content… it is search engine food! Try to post 5 articles per day with at least 750 words per article. Keep the title of the article to approximately 60 characters. Have your editor write a 160-character description of the article.
While the importance of ultra-specific keyword phrases has waned over the years, include a phrase that explains the theme of the article in both the title and the description. Again, using the handy Yoast plugin mentioned above, you can insert the title and the description into the fields necessary to create a Title Tag and a Meta Description. In a nutshell, the Title Tag tells Google what your page is about. It also shows the users in the Google Search and News results as the first, hyperlinked line. The Meta Description is not used as a ranking factor, but it can appear below the title in the search results. This is our opportunity as marketers to use text that drives a click.
If you already have an SEO strategy, check to make sure all of these fundamental building blocks are in place. If you don’t, start now. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint… and it builds on itself over time. Getting the basics in place early on will lead to substantial source of new, valuable names one year from now.
If you need any help please get in touch with AIM’s SEO guru, Colm O’Sullivan… he would be happy to help.
P.S. You can check out our other SEO articles, here.