While working with small businesses, I often hear the same issue repeated in some flavor or another: I think we have an SEO problem. What we discovered was a simple solution to solve the SEO problem. In this case, that simple solution is writing better SEO content. Sometimes, the answers to our complex problems are right in front of us.
It all comes down to basic mathematics and philosophy – sort of.
SEO Content 101: Apply Classic Mathematics
If the thought of math makes you cringe, don’t stress. My point is going to be much simpler than first-grade addition.
Isaac Newton solved our current SEO problems back in 1687 when he published the laws of motion. Simply stated, his first law of motion is, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.”
Was Newton the original SEO philosopher?
In this example, the object at rest is your stagnate search traffic. However, Newton’s first law of motion has a second part:
An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it.
Let’s look at this statement “…unless an external force acts upon it.” The external force is an active blog that solves your customer’s problem.
- An object at rest stays at rest: This is your SEO issue
- …unless an external force acts upon it: Content that solves your customer’s problems
Benefits of Quality Content
HubSpot explains the benefits of quality content:
- Attracts the attention of the right prospects (and search engines!)
- Ensures prospects continue consuming your information, providing the multiple touch points needed for inbound marketing to work over time.
- Helps establish your brand as the definitive resource for information in your area.
- Fosters a level of familiarity and trust that prospects need to make the leap to become customers.
- Enhances the likelihood customers become brand advocates, sharing your information with others.
A Blog in Motion…
If you are serious about fixing your SEO problem, start writing!
For continued SEO success, keep writing quality content that helps your customers solve their problems!
The first step in the journey is to create a content strategy.
What the great SEO philosopher Isaac Newton “really” meant when writing the laws of motion,
- A blog at rest keeps SEO at rest.
- A blog in motion keeps SEO in motion.
How We Boosted Search Referrals 4x in 4 Months
We had an SEO content problem that took us several months to fix, and we are continuing to work at it. Early results look very promising.
Below is our story.
Our search referral traffic was flat despite that fact that we had 1,400 blog posts written over the course of several years.
- Search referral traffic was flat
- Blog posts were not getting ranked
- Blog posts were getting ranked incorrectly
- Very few blog posts appeared in the top search results
We were scratching our heads to find the right solution.
We followed the advice of the ‘pros’:
- Create great headlines – check (so we thought)✓
- Write over 1,000 words and closer to 3,000 – check (needed some improvement)✓
- Post Offen (5x per week)✓
However, after following this great advice, the search love was not coming our way. Search referral traffic to our blog was still flat as a result of the number of keywords indexed or lack thereof in spite of the fact we were writing multiple times per week.
Needless to say, our team was extremely frustrated. There was even a point where we considered shutting our blog down because the investment was not paying off compared to the hours of time we were putting into it.
We see our competitors, and other companies seemingly follow the same advice of the pros but in contrast, they saw the results we hoped for. How? What were they doing that we weren’t?
I knew there had to be a simple solution – at least I was hoping for one.
Simple steps we took
After many failed experiments, we settled upon the following SEO content formula. You will see from the data below the formula had fantastic results. For the SEO experts, this is not an extensive list of items, but it got us out of our blogging blues because the results we pretty dramatic (see below)
- Did extensive keyword research on over 1,400 blog posts
- Rewrote each blog post to include the correct keyword
- Optimized headlines for search
- Created new URLs that included keyword and redirected old URL to new URL
Although these steps were simple, it took quite a bit of time to optimize each blog post – especially, given the fact we had over 1,400 blog posts that needed work done to them (from minor to major tweaks).
Tools we used
The single biggest move that resulted in the most dramatic change was investing in a tool that did backlink research, organic traffic research, and keyword research.
- Ahrefs: Tool that does backlink, organic traffic, and keyword research
- Yoast: SEO plugin for WordPress
- CoSchedue Headline Analyzer: Aids in writing better headlines
- Title Experiments: WordPress plugin to split test headlines
- Redirection: WordPress plugin to easily create URL redirects
- dlvr.it: Shared the optimized on social media to gather more engagement (social engagement is a search trigger)
1 – Extensive Keyword Research
Given that we had 1,400 blog posts to re-optimize, we needed to prioritize which posts to start with.
a. Using Ahrefs, we researched our competitor’s keywords.
b. Created an extensive list of the top keywords with the biggest traffic potential in our space.
c. Again using Ahrefs and our keyword list, researched which blog posts written by anyone that matched that keyword.
d. Found additional long-tail keywords
2 – Rewrote Blog Posts
We took the extensive list of keywords and ranked them by traffic potential in the hope that it would provide a level of prioritization. Once we prioritized the keywords, the time-consuming work began.
a. Downloaded the list of every blog post we have written into a Google Doc. We used Google Docs to track our progress.
b. Grouped each blog post together by subject. For example, we optimized all the blog posts related to Facebook in the hopes of assigning the right Facebook related keyword with the most appropriate Facebook-focused blog post.
c. Used Yoast to help refine the blog post – monitor how many times the keyword was used, analyzed the meta description, and readability errors.
3 – Rewrote Headlines
You will hear a lot of advice when it comes to SEO content that you should write for humans. I completely agree. However, the tricky part is how do you write for real people while at the same time, create content that is also search friendly. We found a compromise:
a. Using the plugin Title Experiments, we were able to build several headlines – some that were more human-friendly, others that were more search friendly. The plugin then measures which performs the best and automagically inserts the winning headline as the main headline.
b. CoSchedue Headline Analyzer gave us the guidance to write 3-4 different headlines that had the most potential of being shared and clicked.
c. Used one of the winning headlines as our SEO title in the Yoast plugin.
4 – Redirected URLs
While going through this process, we quickly realized that our blog post URLs were not search friendly. We had to make a change.
a. First, we created a new URL (if needed) that included the keyword for that blog post.
b. Using the Redirection plugin, we redirected the old URL to the new search-friendly URL.
A word of caution. If your blog has backlinks and good search traffic already, be cautious. As a result, for a short period of time, search traffic will dip, ranked keywords might be lost, and it will mess with Google analytics.
In this case, we were fine with the fall-out. As we previously discussed, we either had no keywords ranked, the wrong keywords ranked, or we found the content buried on page ten in search results.
A bit of advice. When using Redirection make sure you:
- Add “.*” after the original source URL
- Check “Regex”
As a result, all traffic sources will redirect to the new URL including any traffic that had tracking parameters added to the end of the URL. On the contrary, if you didn’t do this, only the traffic that had the root URL would be included. We found this out the hard way.
For example /2015/04/seo-strategy-is-content/ would be redirected BUT /2015/04/seo-strategy-is-content/?=x would not.
5 – Social Share
Social sharing contributes to a brand’s authority much in the same way that external links do. For this reason, any indication of a verifiable external source validating your brand or your content is grounds for a small improvement in domain authority. To put it another way, likes, shares, favorites, replies, and retweets all count toward this increased authority.
Once optimized, we queued up the blog post again in dlvr.it in the hope that we could get more social shares. For many of our readers, the post appeared as a new article. For existing readers, it was a revised or updated article with a much more compelling headline and content. It was a win-win for everyone.
Did Better SEO Content Work?
Looking at the organic search graph below, you will see how our organic search traffic was flat for almost 12 months. Although the keywords were getting indexed, the rate at which they were indexed compared to how many words we were writing monthly, did not match. It took three months to see organic traffic start to go up and another month to realize the hockey stick growth.
Despite all the work we put in, you will see a slight dip in the organic keywords chart. The drop occurred due to the fact old; irrelevant keywords were finally going away. Yes, it was a scary moment, but we pressed forward.
We are still in the mist of the time-consuming process of rewriting our SEO content, but I think the results speak for themselves.
Once you master the above, move onto some of our other learnings.
- 5 BEST Social Media Practices to Boost SEO
- Detect SEO Performance Issues Before They Cause Damage
- Simple SEO Tip to Help Your Site Surface in 12 Billion Searches
Any SEO experts out there? Have any additional advice on putting together a winning SEO content strategy? We’d love to hear from you!