In this episode I’m going to teach you the three search engine marketing basics you MUST know. I don’t sell any SEO services – this is all information that I’ve learned through trial and error to be true, with no strings. You need to be focusing on your keywords, on your content, and on your backlinks! But be careful – because with Google, it often is all about perceptions.
- I use Market Samurai to do all of my market research, and I highly recommend you check out the free trial.
- I also use Yoast’s SEO for WordPress plugin to optimize my websites.
Transcript: Three Search Engine Marketing Basics You Must Know
Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast, this is your host Derek Gehl. In this episode, I want to demystify search engine marketing, or search engine optimization, or SEO, or SEM – whatever you know it as. Effectively, I want to demystify the process of getting your website to rank for good keywords that are going to drive quality visitors to your website for free. There’s no denying that Google’s massive, and it’s still probably the biggest source of free traffic that a business can tap into.
Over the past 5 or 6 years, Google has made some huge changes to its algorithms – how they’re going to rank and who they’re going to rank for what keywords. The upside is, a lot of people say that SEO is dead and the fact is that nothing can be farther from the truth. I’m proof – I have websites that see tens of thousands of quality, unique visitors every single month and it doesn’t cost a penny per click because Google sends it to us for free.
So the fact is, you can still tap into this massive source of traffic, but the game has changed over the years. Here’s what I love about the way the game has changed: gaming the system is no longer as easy as it used to be. Consequently, is that real companies, businesses, real people, that have the content and are willing to do the work to offer real value have the potential to tap into that traffic and not worry about fighting off the guys that were gaming Google’s algorithm.
Search engine traffic is still high quality. If you get a visitor from Google, typically they will convert at a much higher rate than those coming in from other sources. There’s lots of reasons behind that, but if someone searches something on Google and you’re on the first page, that’s like Google saying, hey, this is the number three best website in the world for that keyword. You have that inherent credibility.
When somebody clicks on an ad, there’s a different mindset when they arrive on your website versus finding you in Google. It’s like when someone posts a link on their website and says, go check this out – getting the referral that way. It’s really high quality traffic. But again, when you’re new to this world, it can be really overwhelming. Once you start down this rabbit hole of, how can I rank my website for these keywords, what you’re faced with is a ton of contradicting opinions and strategies and solutions. You don’t necessarily know who to trust, or what’s for real and what isn’t.
So I’m going to preface this. Guys, I have nothing to gain from this. I don’t sell SEO services. I’m not in this marketing game. I do it everyday in my own businesses, I show my clients how to do it, but I don’t sell any SEO services. I just care about figuring out what works so that my websites rank well. I have websites in a bunch of different markets that rank very well for a variety of keywords, generating collectively tens of thousands unique and high quality visitors per month.
So what I’m going to share here is from the trenches – here’s what we’re doing, here’s what works, take it as you like, it works for me and I’m not trying to sell you anything here. That’s one of the problems in the world of SEO is that so many companies out there have an endgame; they’re typically trying to sell you their solutions: X works, Y doesn’t; this is what’s trending today; and if you don’t do this specific thing, the world is going to end. That’s not what this is about.
This is, here’s the three things that you need to be thinking about if you want to start getting better traffic. Once you understand this, it’ll become your framework for decision making. What I mean by that is when you start looking at the different solutions out there, and you get that email that says, Google has changed everything and what you were doing no longer works, you can look at what they’re recommending, and see if it matches up with what we learn here today. If it supports what we learn on this podcast, then good.
So let’s break it down. What are these three things that you need to do to start ranking in Google? I’ll preface this with, are you guaranteed to rank well for everything? No. Can I guarantee that this will work? No. Nothing is certain in the world of SEO. Nobody can guarantee anything in SEO because you’re working with an algorithm that nobody outside Google really understands. I can tell you that if you work with these three things over and over again, you’re going to build up your organic traffic over time. You’ll get results. Is this an overnight strategy? No. Back in the old days of SEO, you could be ranking well within weeks. But if you have a new domain with no authority, it can be very very difficult.
This goes back to the diversification of your sources. I would never rely on Google for my primary source of traffic. You need to diversify your sources. This is a topic for a whole other podcast, but this is a long term plan. Well, what’s long term? I know people are going to ask that. It really depends on your business and your niche. Long term in a less competitive niche with a lot of long tail keywords, long term could be ninety or sixty days even. If you’re in a really competitive niche, this could be a year or more before you start to see results.
There’s no one size fits all. If someone tells you that, they’re either clueless or trying to sell you something.
So let’s jump into this. What’s the first thing that you need to do to rank well in Google? Well, the foundation of any good search engine campaign is the keyword research. The keyword research is going out and finding keywords that have low enough competition and are going to reach the best potential buyer to bring them to your website.
If you’re starting out, the keywords you need to be focusing on are long tail keywords. What’s a longtail keyword? It’s a very descriptive keyword. Let’s take dog training. If you go to Google and type in ‘dog training’, you’re going to get very big websites, media groups, and they’re going to be pretty difficult to knock off that top spot. Ranking for that keyword is unlikely. At the end of the day, ‘dog training’ is so general that the quality of traffic may not be that great because it’s so general.
A quick story. Back in 2006 or 2007, I decided I wanted to rank in first for the keyword ‘Internet marketing.’ So I went out and invested. I bought the domain name InternetMarketing.com, which I’ve since sold, MarketingTips.com and InternetMarketing.com. And after a ton of optimization, a ton of work, I didn’t just rank, I ranked in the number one and number two spots for Internet marketing. But the problem was, that while it created a ton of traffic, it was so general that it wasn’t worth a darn. I would’ve been better off focusing on long tail keywords, like ‘Internet marketing course,’ and those visitors would’ve been more interested in what I have to offer.
That goes back to congruence between your listing and your offering. You want to go out and identify those long tail keywords that have low competition. They might not be super high traffic, but they’ll drive you good, quality traffic. Secondly, they’ll be easier to rank for. So if we go out and instead of ‘dog training,’ we search ‘how to train a dog not to bark,’ what you’re going to find is more specific websites. Once you get into long tail keywords, you’ll find this is where the smaller websites are ranking. While it may send you a fraction of the traffic, you know exactly what they’re looking for. This will create a much higher conversion.
Circling back, though, the foundation for any successful search engine campaign is picking the right keywords. If you’re too generic or competitive, you won’t rank. And even if you do rank, the traffic won’t convert. You have to try to draw people into your website, but you have to make sure they have an interest in your offer.
There’s tons of tools out there to do that research, too. One of the tools I’ve used for many, many years, is Market Samurai. This isn’t mine, but I highly recommend it. So Market Samurai not only pulls keyword data and tells you who is searching for what, but it tells you how many people are competing for which keywords, and how good the competition is. Those are all critical elements to the keywords. People never put in enough time to discover the right keywords. They need to have less competition, but still have demand, and it’s those that you have a chance to rank for.
If you already have a website that’s been indexed, there’s probably a bunch of keywords that you are ranking for, but it’s just not near the first page. So no one is actually seeing them. I did this the other day in my mastermind group, because one of my clients asked about keywords and generating organic traffic. So I said, we need to figure out which keywords have been indexed. So you do that by going into your Google Webmasters tools, and under queries, you can see what keywords you’re already ranking for, as well as your average for ranking.
So we went and looked and found a ton of stuff that she was ranking for, but just in the 55th, 65th, 75th, spots for. She just wasn’t getting traffic. Google had already indexed her for these keywords, so now, we decided to continue to optimize for that keyword, and boost internal link structures and high authority links. If you don’t know where to start, have a look at the queries you’re already ranking for, and then optimize for those. A little more effort will move you up.
Keywords. If you get those wrong, it’s pointless. Get your keywords right. Market Samurai is one of my favourites for this research. When you’re looking for a research tool – one of the reasons I love Market Samurai is that not only does it help with keyword research, it’ll assess the competition for each keyword. So make sure you do that research.
The second pillar of the successful SEO is having great content. High quality, well optimized content. Gone are the days of just hiring writers to produce content for the sake of producing content. Look, for content to work, it used to be that you could have someone making crappy content that was optimized and it would rank. It didn’t even need to be readable. Now, you need high quality content.
This goes back to engagement too. Right now in the world of SEO, you’re hearing a ton about engagement. If people aren’t engaging with your content, it won’t rank well. But really, the answer to engagement is offering really high quality content that people want to engage with. Over the years, this idea of “high quality content” has changed. At one point, it was, your blog post shouldn’t have more than 500 words, it should have an image–but look.
Today, I’m seeing longer articles with lots of imagery or video in it as being really successful. Google is liking it too, because people are engaging more with it. Not only is it about having that high quality stuff, it’s also about optimizing it at the most basic level and including the keywords that you want to rank for. That’s easy to do – if you’re on WordPress, go grab the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, make sure your titles are optimized, your meta-titles and descriptions, that will give you basic optimization as well.
But the base is, you need to create good content that you want to read. This is content that offers something, that teaches something, that gives them something. Something that grabs their attention and gives them value. Maybe there’s a call to action that prompts them to click somewhere else on the site. I’ll do another podcast on this later, but just know that high quality content is key. Go look at other websites in your industry that are ranking, and see what they’re doing. That’s number two. High quality, well optimized content. Base level, using your keywords. On a higher level, making sure that it’s optimized to grab people’s attention and bring them into the article; offer value. There’s a lot of strategies for that.
This brings us to the third pillar. I know that some people are going to disagree with me. And that’s fine. I base what I’m teaching on what I know works. The fact is, if you do your keyword research but you never go out and get backlinks from high authority website, you won’t rank. There’s been this big swing in the world of SEO where people are saying, “don’t worry about back links! Drive traffic and everything will be great!” But if Google is seeing you, and indexing you, and your competitors are building up great backlinks, you’re not going to beat them. You need to build backlinks. That’s a link from someone else’s website to yours. This is a whole other can of worms, but in its most basic format, you want to find other people that like that content and get them to link to your website off of their website.
There’s lots of different ways to go out and get backlinks, and again, that’s a whole other podcast for you, but the fact is, there’s all this buzz on social signals and social effecting SEOs and all of that, but if you talk to anyone working in the industry right now… Do we use social signals? Yes. But if I could choose likes on Facebook over a backlink from a PR 9 high authority website in my industry, I’d choose the PR in a heartbeat.
There’s lots of ways to get good links, as long as your website is offering value. So if you have a website that has good content that other people like, getting them to link to you is not that difficult. Again, this is about the framework. So the third pillar is, once you have your good content, you need to get out there and build those backlinks. You need to market your content and get people linking to it. A great way to do this is go out and find a website that you could create content for, go out and do it.
Another strategy is, if you’re ever on someone’s website in your industry, and you click on something and the link is broken, I could sit down, quickly create a piece of content that would answer that question, and then you could reach out to that person and say, “I noticed this link is broken, but I have a piece of content that I think would answer that question. Would you like to link to it?” This is a great strategy. Just go help people fill in broken links on their websites.
If you go do this like BackLinko.com, or any legitimate backlink building website, you’ll find there’s lots out there. If you call it backlinking, Google will get its shackles up. They don’t like it so much. But if you say to them, I’m out there marketing my content because I want to share this and I want other people to link to it, Google will say, that’s great. That’s a good idea But if you say to Google, I’m trying to build backlinks, they won’t like it. You’re not supposed to be doing that. It’s all about the perception.
In summary, the three pillars are, find the right keywords. Good long tail keywords with low competition. Use a tool like Market Samurai, make sure the competition is low, make sure it’ll bring quality buyers to your website. Then, make sure you’re offering high quality content, not just boring articles. Optimize it with images and video, and at its basic level, use a plugin like yoast, to optimize for your keywords. Then, finally, once you’ve created your content, you need to go out there and find ways to market that content – get links back to it, find people that take value from it.
Find ways to get stuff out there and published on other websites in your industry. But this is just the foundation. Good quality keywords built on high quality, well optimized content that you’re then out there marketing, trying to build backlinks to. If you do that, and you’re patient, over time, you’re going to get results.
Will it happen over night? No. If you pick the wrong keywords, will it work? No. But now that you have this framework, you can measure your strategies against this framework. If the strategies support this framework, they’re probably good, if they don’t, you probably want to stay away from them.
On that note, I hope I’ve helped demystify what it takes to get ranked in Google. I’m living proof, guys. I love Google. They send me tons of traffic. Do I love them every day? No. They can frustrate the heck out of me – their lack of transparency, their changes – but the one thing I do know about Google is that those massive algorithmic changes that have happened over the past four or five years are starting to calm down because Google is starting to fine tune that algorithm.
Not to say it couldn’t change, but we’ve made it through this past year without any massive upsets in the algorithm. Again, diversify your sources – never rely on one source of traffic. Period. If your business is driven by one source, be it Facebook, or Google, or paid ads, you’re playing a dangerous game. If there’s one thing I know for certain about the Internet after being online for 20 years – the only thing that’s guaranteed is change. Continuing to diversify will maintain a flow of traffic and income so that if one thing goes south, you have others to rely on.
So, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Coming up, I have some terrific interviews and training podcasts. Again, my goal here is to give you something that you can apply to your businesses–real strategies, no fluff, no hype. Real entrepreneurs doing it, and how you can take it and apply it to your business. So, if you enjoyed this podcast and you’re an iTunes user, please head over to iTunes and subscribe and leave a review. You can also find us on Soundcloud or any podcasting platform in Google Play, and of course, at ProjectIgnite.com/podcast. You’ll find all of your shownotes there, plus a high quality transcription. There you go – have a fantastically productive week, we’ll see you next time.