I’ve recently been asked some questions by aspiring SEOs that made me think back to the time I was first learning Search Engine Optimization. In the beginning it is easy to focus on the wrong things and spend time where it doesn’t matter. Because of this, I wanted to write this post to help point beginners in the right direction to avoid the mistakes I made.
You Have To Be In It To Win It
Most people don’t realize that proper SEO means staying consistent over time. Essentially in order to succeed, you need to continuously publish high quality content for around 6 months to a year. This is the time most say it takes for a blog or website to really start gathering traction. Creating one or two pieces of content isn’t going to cut it.
If you want to win with Search Engine Optimization, you need to play the long game.
Keyword Research Tools Are Overblown
Everyone seems so obsessed with keyword research tools, and at first glance I understand why. These seem to be magical apps and software you can use to instantly grab topics that will bring in X amount of traffic to your website. However, there’s a few problems with this.
Firstly, everyone uses the same tools. That means all of your competitors do as well, or websites you are trying to rank against. If everyone in your niche or space is writing content about the same thing, there’s no point. You want to differentiate yourself and write unique, original content.
Besides the issue of duplicate content topics, I’ve often found in my experience that these tools don’t accurately predict the traffic volume related to keywords. 99% of the time I would write content optimized around these ideas and find much lower traffic than anticipated.
What you should do instead is sit down and ask yourself what questions prospects and browsers have in your niche. Then, brainstorm a list of common questions you think people would have. Next, I recommend checking out Reddit and forums in your space to see what people are asking. This is a great way to see real questions people are asking.
If you want to be crafty, you can even post a thread asking people what questions they have about the topic to get direct ideas for content to create. Of course, if you’re doing this you should answer the questions people are posting.
I recommend answering these by mentioning you wrote an article on it, and replying with a link to your new piece of content. This is a great hack to generate traffic from Reddit & forums.
99% Of Your Time Should Be Spent On Content Creation
I see a lot of people get so caught up in tasks that just don’t move the needle or matter in the grand scheme for your SEO and website ranking. Stop spending time in dashboards of tools you’re paying for that you don’t even need, and spend more time creating.
Truth be told, creating content is the BEST thing you can spend your time on. The more pieces of content you have, the more traffic you will bring into your website. That’s just how the game works.
In Content Shinobi I break down how to easily create powerful content that helps you achieve your business goals.
Focus On Quality Over Quantity
One of the things I notice is that aspiring SEOs consistently seem to obsess over numbers at every turn. Word count, quantity of posts…the list goes on and on. Stop focusing on these things.
What really matters is that you post high quality content that helps people in your industry or niche. Everything else is second to that. Instead of looking at how long your content is, ask yourself this question: “Am I answering this question to the best of my ability?” If the answer is no, you need to add more relevant information (not padding) to your piece.
You Need To Monetize From Day One
Let’s face the reality: You’re creating content for a reason. Maybe you have a business to run and need to get people in the door, or you run an ecommerce store selling products. Whatever the case, you need to make sure your content is achieving your business goals.
I see a lot of SEOs publish awesome and helpful posts, but they don’t do anything with the traffic that they are getting. You need to include calls to action in your content and tell people what you want them to do. This could be a button, form, or link to another page on your website.
You may notice on this post there is a form on the top and bottom offering a free course. My goal with this blog is to build authority and trust with my audience (because you reading this can see I know what I’m talking about) and secondly to build an audience of like-minded individuals, thus the opt-in forms.
The reason I wrote it out point blank like this is for a reason: I want to showcase why being transparent is important and sets you apart from the competition.
There’s an old saying in the marketing space: “People do business with those they know and trust.” One of your goals should be using your content to build trust and authority with your visitors and prospects.
Retention – Nobody Talks About It
Let’s take a minute and talk about user behavior on websites. While it’s nice to imagine everyone who lands on our blog bookmarks it and comes back later, this simply isn’t true. 99% of the people who visit your website or read a piece of content are one-time visitors.
This is why it’s crucial we capture the information of our visitors and build an audience. When you publish a new piece of content, you can send it out to them. Most of the time this is done through email marketing or push notifications.
If you build a list of people interested in your business or the topics you are writing about, you can then make offers to your list. This could be a product, invitation to a consultation, or even someone else’s product as an affiliate.
If you aren’t capturing your visitors information, you are seriously missing out and achieving less results with your SEO efforts.
Trying To Cheat The System Is Cheating Yourself Out Of Results
Long term success with SEO only comes to those who understand that ranking your website involves real work and effort. There’s a group of people out there that believe they can outsmart Google and be sneaky.
The reality is that Google is one of the largest companies in the world with a team of some of the smartest engineers on the planet. 99% of the time they will catch on – it’s only a matter of time.
This is commonly referred to as “black hat” SEO. What new SEOs may not realize is that Google can penalize your website and bump it down the search results. Depending on the severity, you can potentially even be blacklisted or removed from Google search entirely. You don’t want to lose the work and money you put into your website and content.
You are way better off doing things the right way and playing by Google’s rules. (Which are very reasonable, mind you.)
Don’t Be Artificial
Piggybacking off of my previous points, at the end of the day what matters most is content. Not word count, not artificial tech mumbo jumbo. A lot of beginners seem to think that they need this plugin or that tool, but the reality is some of the largest websites at the top of Google search don’t use SEO plugins at all.
I’ve seen countless websites skyrocket to the top of search just by posting relevant, high quality blog posts that helped searchers.
These are the things I wish I knew when I started my SEO journey. Years down the line, I am telling you these things to help propel you in the right direction with your Search Engine Optimization and website. Don’t make the same mistakes most people do and focus your time on creating valuable content.