Have you ever gotten excited about launching a new website or publishing a new blog post only to find that no one reads it?
I have. Everyone who has published anything online in the past few years, especially as a small business owner, has undoubtedly had that experience.
The sheer volume of content online makes it a challenge. There were 1 billion websites as of 2014, and that was years ago.
In this environment, getting your website noticed means that you have to be intentional. You can’t just publish something and hope that someone will read it; as the saying goes, hope is not a strategy.
You actually need to do two things in particular:
You need to create great content and get links back to your website.
This is the secret sauce.
In fact, even Google tells you that this is what you need to do if you want to get your site noticed by the search engines.
With that in mind, this is the process that you need to follow in order to get your site noticed:
- Make sure that the technical components of your site are optimized
- Follow best practices for content marketing
- Follow best practices for SEO (content, optimization, links)
There’s a lot of information here, but we’ll look at each item step-by-step.
Check the Technical Components First
Before we even think about content marketing and SEO, we need to make sure that our website is set up to help us succeed.
Without these steps, Google may not even be able to find your site or want to show it in the search results.
These items include:
- Having a sitemap. Without a sitemap, it’s harder for Google to index your site, which means that they can’t serve it up in the search results. If you don’t have one already, it’s easy to create a sitemap in WordPress.
- Making sure that your website is responsive. If your website is not responsive, meaning that it doesn’t show up well on a mobile phone or tablet, then it’s less likely that Google will show it in the search results. Since so many people are now searching on their phones and tablets, Google needs to make sure that the search results can be easily viewed on small screens. You can find out if your site is responsive using Google’s Mobile-friendly test or this responsive checker, which allows you to scroll through your site (thanks to reader Samantha for sharing this!).
- Making sure that your site is fast. If your site is slow, it makes for a poor user experience. How long do you wait for a site to load? Not long, right? Neither do I. Most people don’t. For Google, this means that they’re not providing users with a good experience when they show a slow website in the search results. You can find out if your site is fast here
Before focusing on your content, it’s important to make sure that you’ve addressed these as well as any other technical SEO issues that may hurt your site. An SEO website assessment can help you with this.
Follow Best Practices for Content Marketing
Start by considering how content fits into your overall business goals. A bit of planning upfront will benefit you in the long run.
You can do this by preparing a marketing plan. You don’t need to create a traditional marketing plan, but a strategic marketing plan for SEO will help.
In the process of developing your marketing plan, you’ll define your niche. Remember that there are over 1 billion websites – there’s a lot of competition out there. Don’t let this discourage you, though; instead focus on where you can make the biggest difference and stand out.
Related to that, be clear about who you’re writing for: you simply can’t be all things to all people.
Remember that you have about three seconds to get someone’s attention online: if your content and messaging don’t speak to them quickly, they will hit the back button and leave your site.
In order to get the reader’s attention quickly, you need to make sure that your content is very relevant to them. To do this, you need consider who your ideal client is. What are they going to want to learn about from you?
Once you’ve gained clarity about who you’re writing for, now you’re ready to decide what exactly to write about. This can be daunting, but there’s actually a really easy way to figure this out:
I recommend to clients that the best source of content is to start with the questions that you’re answering already.
What kinds of questions do you get from clients? Is there anything that you find yourself answering over and over again? These are good starting points for developing your content. (If you’re just getting started, think about the questions that people might ask you.)
Follow Best Practices for SEO: Write Content That Ranks
Now, once you’ve made sure that your website’s foundation is technically sound and you know who you’re writing for and what to write, you can start writing articles that answer the most common questions you receive.
This provides you with content that is useful to your audience and lets the search engines know that you have expertise in those areas. Plus, it will save you time later when you get the same question from a new person because you’ll be able to direct them to the article that you already wrote.
The first thing that you need to know about writing content that will get noticed is this:
It needs to be good. Real good.
Let’s take a look at what this means.
Take a look at the chart below, courtesy of Backlinko. It shows the results of a study that found that content that was longer in length tended to rank higher in the search results. (SERP = search engine results placement, or the order in which websites show up in the search results.)
According to this chart, all of the top 10 search results for a given keyword had at least 2,000 words.
Think about that for a moment. Do you think that a 400-word blog post will really be able to rank in the top 10?
It’s unlikely. The reason for this is quite simple: Google’s entire business model is based on giving users the best search results. They’re going to show people the content that provides the best results. A longer article will probably give people more information than a short, low-quality one.
Here’s what this means for you:
You need to focus on creating lengthier, higher-quality content instead of shorter, lower-quality content. Instead of trying to publish a blog post per week, focus on creating perhaps a higher quality piece every month or every couple of months.
Follow Best Practices for SEO: Optimize Your Content
After you’ve written your content, you want to make sure that you follow the best practices for SEO copywriting.
SEO copywriting is the practice of writing for the web in such a way that you can get traffic to your website.
It involves a few key ideas.
Focus your content on a specific keyword: Keyword research is a whole field unto itself, but here are a couple of ways that you can get started. First, think of the words that your ideal client would actually using to search for your services online. Seed Keywords is great for this. Simply create a scenario such as, “You want to change careers. What would you search for?” and you’ll be given a link that you can send to people to find out what they would actually search for. You can also Google’s Keyword Planner to find out the search volume and competition for specific keywords.
Optimize your site: Use that keyword and related keywords in key places on your page, including in the website title, the heading, and the meta descriptions. The Yoast SEO plugin is the best way to do this on a WordPress website.
Keep posts short and easy to read: As you know from your own online experience, no one actually reads online content. We scan. Using headings and subheadings, bold text for emphasis, bullets and numbered lists, and short paragraphs are all standard practice online because they invite your readers to scan your content. This helps to keep people on your site and increases what’s known as “dwell time,” which is one of the factors that Google considers when deciding which sites to show in the search results.
Use images: All websites benefit from the use of images. They break up your text and add a nice visual element. They can enhance your message. Plus, they help with SEO because your site can also show up in image searches.
Make your content easy to share: Add the Facebook like button and the Twitter tweet button to your blog. This will make it easy for people to share your blog posts with others.
Follow Best Practices for SEO: Promote Your Content
Once you’ve planned your content, written something great, and optimized it, there’s still one last step:
You need to promote your content.
What does this mean? Well, it means that you have to let people know about it so that they can link back to your website.
Let’s break this down a bit.
When another website links to your website, Google considers this a “vote” in support of your site. Because of this, it will rank Site A higher than Site B if it has more backlinks.
Let’s take a look at another graph from Backlinko.
Here, we see that the sites in the top 10 search results for a given search term have hundreds of domains (websites) linking back to them. In fact, there’s a significant difference between the first position, which has almost 300 links back, and the last position, which has less than 50 links back.
So the question becomes, how do I get links back to my site?
There are a few ways to do this.
The most common is to do email outreach to targeted bloggers and websites. The link research needed to identify these possible sources of backlinks is part of an SEO audit.
However, if you want to do it yourself, you can follow these steps:
- Register for a free account with WebMeUp.
- Search online for an article on a topic related to yours.
- Enter the URL (web address) of the article into the WebMeUp search bar.
- Click on backlinks. This will show you other sites that are linking back to that site.
- Look through the backlinks and find ones that might be able to link back to your article.
- Send them an email with a link to your article. You don’t want to be pushy, but if you let them know that you thought they might be interested in your article, they might be willing to link back to you.
Like keyword research, link research is a huge area but the steps above will get you started if you want to do your own SEO.
As you can see, getting your site noticed takes some work! There’s no shortcut.
However, by following best practices, you’ll be putting yourself in a good position to succeed.
Start by bookmarking this page and then work your way through. If you run into any problems or have questions, feel free to contact me.
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