Step 8 to SEO: User Experience

Is my website intuitive and frictionless throughout?

If you’ve been following from Step One, you may remember that Step Two: Competitor Research, highlighted UEO as the new SEO. If you haven’t read it, here’s a key takeaway:

SEO is more about user experience optimization (UEO) than optimizing the search engine.

That makes user experience then, your most important focus for getting your site ranked.

And how does UEO relate to competitor research? Well first of all, discovering how to enhance, or in a worst case scenario, dredging your user’s experience up from the bottom of a mucky pond to the surface light of day, starts by watching your competitors with a keen eye.

But there’s more to it than that.

When you created your site, you didn’t create it for silent, mechanical aliens that would follow clickbait like naive school children follow Bobo the Clown. Not even close. You made it for real live people. People with different problems and pain points. People with very personal frustrations and levels of tolerance. People dotting the entire spectrum of tech savviness.

And although you know it is a rather unrealistic desire, your intention is to make every page on your site 100% accessible to everyone who lands on it. And so it should be, realistic or not.

You’ve got to get inside the head of your ideal customer and know what is going to frustrate the crap out of them and do everything you can to avoid creating that kind of experience.

Then, you’ve got to know exactly what makes them stay on your page and eventually convert and feel that it’s one of the best decisions they’ve made this year. And then you create that experience too.

Easy, right? Well, sort of.

The best way to get started is to visit as many websites in your industry as your sweet time allows and note every little thing that makes you want to stick a fork in your eye and every little thing that makes your experience feel like you’re on a first class flight with Emirates. Then compare these features to your own site.

But once you’ve done that, how do you actually know that everything you’ve set in place to create the best user experience is actually, well, the best?

You have to know what your customer wants. And how do you know what your customer wants?

Google Analytics helps track user behaviour so you can get a deeper look at what parts of your site are keeping people engaged, and which ones are encouraging them to take a hike.

Let’s look at the specifics of what GA can track:

  • Where a user entered your site and where they left
  • Their navigation and interaction with your site  (this helps you figure out if your CTAs and internal links are in sensible locations)
  • What device they use to view your site (this helps you further optimize your site for specific devices based on popular use).

(And remember, GA is a free tool).

Now this next tip is a bit Sherlock so prepare yourself:


Ask your customer.

I know, right? It’s like telling someone to check that the TV is plugged in when it won’t turn on, but so many of us ignore the simplest way. Our complex brains like complication.

So how do ask? Check out Step Six: Reviews for tips on how to ask your customer.

What About Information Architecture?

Neil Patel tells us that at the core of the user experience is information architecture. A basic understanding of information architecture is outlined in the image below:

Source: Neil Patel

So now we’ve got the fundamentals outta the way, let’s look at a few more equally valuable components of UX.

Aesthetics

This may seem obvious but we have to ask: Does your website look nice? Is it tidy or cluttered with content and images? Are your chosen colours complementary? Does your logo actually capture the ethos of your business? Is there any possibility that it overwhelms or confuses? Remember, simple is best for any site of any business in any industry. You don’t want to make people work to buy your product or service because they won’t.

Quality and Readability of Information / Voice

A great majority of the adult population cannot read past an eighth grade level so unless your business is highly technical or you, for some reason, require a great deal of nomenclature in your content, then write for the eighth grade reader. If you can’t write, you’re not alone, and there are plenty of professional copywriters out there who can deliver some bang-up content. Choose someone who is able to capture the voice of your business and stick with that person. Using too many different writers will make the voice of your business sound less cohesive and convincing, like reading a novel where the writers change from chapter to chapter.

Now remember, and this is where it falls apart for a lot of businesses: make sure your content is well-researched, quality stuff. People can sniff out bullshit faster than our overpopulated planet can churn it out. Make your shit unique and the stuff of roses, stuff people can actually get something out of.

Extend the Learning Journey

Think of your site as a trip to the science centre. Each station should draw you in, entice you to know more, indulge in your curiosity and fascination about the way the world works. So too should your site about your product or service. Use whatever means are necessary to keep your user engaged. Include links to where they can get more information, whether that’s on your site or an affiliate’s. Use appealing images, photos, videos, or memes that support understanding, that deliver a bit of humour, that invite the reader to further question what they’ve read (and then invite them further down the learning path). In short, give them an experience.

Calls-To-Action

CTAs might be the most important part of your site––where they’re placed and how they call users to convert.

Forget the old, boring “buy”, “purchase”, or “submit”. Get creative (or trust in your content writer to do what you paid her to).

Remember––a user is a person too!

When we’re bogged down by metrics, it’s easy to forget that there are real live people behind those numbers. And what drives most people to buy?

They have some painful, nagging thorn in their side that makes them need your product to remedy their situation.

People don’t buy your product because it looks nice. They buy it because it solves a problem.

Maybe they don’t know they’re in pain, which is why you need to remind them, strategically, at each step of the conversion cycle and use the CTA as an opportunity to highlight, once more, how your product is going to solve their problem. Now make sure that problem-solving actually alleviates their pain rather than contribute to it.

You got this. Leave a comment and let us know what your main UX gem is.

Step 7: Technical SEO


Are My Relevant Web Pages Being Crawled and Indexed?

Do you want more traffic to your site?

Of course you do, and it starts with understanding two key actions taken by Google (and other search engines but we’ll focus on Google): crawling and indexing.

Your pages are being crawled, and if you want them to be, they’re also being indexed. How frequently they’re being crawled and indexed is the major question.

Let’s start by defining these two key terms.

What is crawling?

Google’s Spider crawler constantly searches for new web pages and finds them because of links to a page. Once on a particular page, Google will follow the path your page leads them down through your links to other pages on your website. When the crawl is done, they’re indexed.

It’s that simple… almost. We’ll get to what can influence the frequency of crawling.

But first,

What is indexing?

Simply put, indexing is gathering and processing the information acquired during the crawl and adding web pages into Google’s search engine.

Being indexed is not the same thing as being listed in Google’s SERPs. When a page has been indexed it has been downloaded to the server of the search engine; a site doesn’t have to be indexed to be listed.

And in some cases, you may not want your page to be indexed, such as when it has thin or no-value content, for example, thank you pages, login pages, and internal search results pages. In that case, you want to insert a no-index tag, which means that although your page is still being crawled, it’s not added to Google’s search index.

The take-away: Index only the most important parts of your website.

Note: Every WordPress post and page is indexed automatically but to improve your search results, you need Google to re-index your site frequently (use Google Search Console to find out how often your site is being crawled).

Your site is probably already being indexed but if it’s new, there’s any easy way to check:

Enter site:yourdomain.com into Google’s search bar. If you’re indexed, the SERP should look like this:

If not, it will return a message that your search did not match any documents.

If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean you have to sit back and wait for Google to notice you. It’s kind of like seeing that perfect potential mate from across the room. If you sit there and wait for him or her to approach, you may be waiting a very long time. Alternatively, if you take action and make it happen, chances are you’ll have a date. Google is a little less risky though, they won’t reject you if you follow the right steps.

But, like dating, indexing is not a one-time deal that gets you where you want to be. You need Google to keep re-indexing your site because they don’t update automatically.

How can you get your site crawled and indexed more frequently?

Google offers us the following tips to improve our page indexing:

  • Create short, meaningful page titles.
  • Use page headings that convey the subject of the page.
  • Use text rather than images to convey content. (Google can understand some image and video, but not as well as it can understand text. At minimum, annotate your video and images with alt text and other attributes as appropriate.)

(Source).

What other major factors affect indexing?

Regular new quality content that is relevant and doesn’t break any rules (see below) is one of the primary ways. Add new, relevant, and user friendly, high-quality content regularly and update existing content by creating a content marketing strategy. Have a look here at how that’s different from a simple content strategy:

Include the primary keyword in your domain name.

Use high quality backlinks that are reputable and trustworthy.

Internal links are a great practice for SEO and for keeping people engaged on your websites and answering their questions the second they come up. When linking to a section in the same page, use the same anchor text to encourage deep crawling.

An XML sitemap is a roadmap to help Google look deeply into your website because it lists every URL. A variety of plug-ins are available that you can use to generate a sitemap. For WordPress, use Yoast SEO.

WordPress Ping Services automatically notifies search engines that your site has been updated with new content, which keeps those bots crawling and (hopefully) indexing.

What prevents Google from indexing a website?

Playing by Google’s rules will keep you in their good books––their index, so avoid the following:

  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword and meta-tag stuffing

In some cases, you may want to prevent Google from indexing your site. See their support guide for some simple guidelines.

Logical Mix Chats with Nat from Whitby’s Chamber of Commerce

I recently had the pleasure of catching a ride through Brooklin with Whitby’s Chamber of Commerce CEO, Natalie Prychitkoas, a guest on her YouTube series “Chat with Nat”.

I was a bit awkward at the start. I tend to wear an expression that makes you expect to see a couple of stray feathers sticking out my mouth, a little tweet tweet echoing from inside me. That expression intensifies when I’m a bit nervous and then I stumble over my words a bit.

For example, she asks me––

“You’ve got young kids, don’t you? You know how I know? Because your front porch is full of young kid plastic stuff,”

I reply as my usual witty self with this awkward gem:

“You didn’t think that was me?” I joked, as if to suggest I spend my afternoons wearing swimmies, splashing in a kiddie pool or practicing my golf swing with a Little Tykes 3 Wood.

Because as a guy in the digital marketing biz, that’s exactly the image I wish to portray.

But permanently-etched mental images aside, Nat was correct. Our house is overflowing with every kind of plastic toy you can imagine because my wife and I have two young boys (three, if we include my afternoon antics). The point is, I know I’m awkward but that perma-grin is really because I’m just kind of a big kid inside.

She asked me about my history and why my family and I moved to Brooklin from Toronto. My wife and I grew up in Toronto and we loved living there but once we had our first son, our house became a bit too cramped for us so we entered Suburbia. We chose Brooklin because it’s a little bit like Pleasantville––everyone waves and smiles, and smiles and waves. There are paths connecting this street and to that park and to Heber Down (if you haven’t been to Heber Down, do yourself a favor and check it out), and there are some really great burgers right in town. What more do you need in a community than great neighbours, nature trails, and good grub?

And then we moved onto business. Nat asked about what I do and why I do it and what I’m anticipating for 2018.

I love this question and it’s one of the reasons I’m happy I got the chance to chat with Nat. I love having an SEO company in Whitby and I want to tell everyone who will listen.

In addition to being a dad and a husband, I’m also a digital marketing geek who started up his own biz in 2011. Before that, I worked for a company called Contractors.com, which did internet marketing for tradespeople. It was awesome and the site was receiving 200K visits per month right up until Google changed its algorithm that removed ranking authority from domain names. I sat in on one of their meetings and was fascinated by how Internet search engines could be so strategically manipulated. That was essentially how I got started in digital marketing, which led to the creation of Logical Mix.

Nat asked––“Why did you join the Commerce and what are you anticipating for 2018?”

When I moved to Whitby, it felt like a good time to immerse myself in the community so I joined the Java Jolt––a member-led group of business people who meet up to help each other out and build a supportive network. They opened my eyes to the Chamber so I checked them out and like their vibes––Bob’s your uncle.

As for my 2018 goals––well, basically, I’m a community guy. I want to help people and the way I do that is by helping local businesses grow and build their online exposure. It’s what I know and what I do. It’s why I’m so proud of the work the Whitby Chamber of Commerce does for the community. They are true ambassadors for businesses in Whitby and the Durham Region.

I’m grateful to Nat for her time and for sharing our chat on YouTube––check it out below:

 

End of an Era with MOZ and the SEO Community

SEO Rockstar Rand Fishkin Steps Out And Moves On

College dropout-turned-SEO-messiah, Rand Fishkin is a legend in the SEO world. Co-founder of Moz, Rand held the seat of CEO for one of the top software analytics companies in the world for years. His SEO empire Moz grew out of the humble web design business he started right around the time Google entered our lives and changed the virtual world. Talk about being in the right place at the right time–and with the business acumen of a pizza pusher at a Blue Jays game (with the right amount of MOZ-arella).

Rand built his success, somewhat reluctantly, upon the general lack of knowledge about SEO and page ranking that existed at the time. While businesses clamoured to gain a first-page spot on any SERP, Rand outsourced research to SEO experts to meet the needs of his clients. With the demand for SEO expert knowledge and their prices increasing, Rand took it upon himself to become an authority. Massive research and self-study led to the birth of his blog SEOmoz and his successful venture to uncover the secrets of SERPs, which eventually became what it is today–Moz software business empire.

Rand’s SEO empire ranked #334 on the Inc. 500 list in 2010, has received multi-million dollar financing from high-profile investors, and receives over three million visitors per month. Its three primary products, Moz Pro, which includes Keyword Explorer and Open Site Explorer, Moz Local, and Moz API service everyone from professional SEOs to the local paint store owner to individuals who want site data and analytics.

After stepping down from his role as CEO of Moz and a subsequent four years fulfilling a variety of roles, Rand’s journey with Moz ended this past February. Rand’s last day at Moz was over a month ago and it was hard to digest.

Logical Mix Has Benefited Immensely From His Teachings

I know he’s doing more ‘whiteboard Friday’s’ (in fact, he lined up about a dozen before he left), but he’s gone to do… Sparktoro.

You can check out what the heck Sparktoro is by clicking here, but first, the million-dollar question lingers: If Moz is so successful, why the heck did Rand leave? The search for a clear answer leaves a pile of earth and stones. But reading between the lines of his personal blog, we can extract a sense that Rand was aggrieved by the operation of Moz over the past several years, which may be why he stepped down from CEO in 2014–this is mere conjecture though so don’t quote me on it. But he did write,

“On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is “fired and escorted out of the building by security” and 10 is “left entirely of his own accord on wonderful terms,” my departure is around a 4. That makes today a hard one, cognitively and emotionally. I have a lot of sadness, a heap of regrets, and a smattering of resentment too.”

Personally, Rand taught me a lot about the SEO game, one of the most significant being that it actually isn’t a game. When it comes to SEO best practices, he clearly demarcates between quick hacks for instant rankings and hard-won experiences as a result of consistent hard work. He reveals that his “secret sauce” for SEO success is not so secret at all and anyone who isn’t transparent about his SEO activities is likely up to some shady business. He insists that there is no one right move that will accelerate the growth of any business. The value is in the whole, not its individual parts. Anything else smacks of black hat biz.

But damn, even with the success of his SEO enterprise and the years of hard work under-riding it, Rand is an uncommonly humble guy. Personally, I suspect that is the cornerstone of his success. Humility supports a continuous desire to improve.

“I’m not sure I’d call Moz a ‘success,’ at least not yet. We’ve raised venture capital, and that means returning money to our investors, hopefully at a very high multiple. It’s a very tall task, but I believe one that’s possible – just an incredibly hard thing to do.” 

A juicy last tip from Rand: Put your customers first. VCs are important for economic growth but you’ve got to listen and respond to what your customers want.

Love him or hate him–that dude is a legend in SEO. White hats off to you Rand!

Check out Rand’s recently released book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.

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DeltaGrowth logo

DG’s Roundup Summary: What SEO or PPC Advice Would You Give Yourself?

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Delta Growth (DG), a big boy in Toronto’s SEO & SEM industry, specializing in e-commerce. Eugenia, DG’s SEO/PPC Implementation Specialist reached out to some of the industry’s local brainers to ask a SEO/PPC question that few of us ever ask ourselves during our careers:

What advice would have changed your SEO or PPC career?

It’s the kind of question that encourages us to reflect on our business moves of yesteryear. But it also makes us want to nail our thumbs to the floor for the dearth of knowledge our brains now overflow with. If only a DeLorean time machine were as accessible as a Zipcar.

But alas, DG talked to leading SEOs, so we did something right even back then! As a SEO Specialist in Whitby at Logical Mix I was humbled to be regarded in this mix and appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the ghosts of SEO past.

Whether you’re a blogger, consultant, strategist, or a newbie copywriter, Delta Growth’s Round Up about SEO/SEM career advice from leading industry experts may surprise you. It seems success lies in some good old-fashioned values and technical know-how.

Make Great SEO & SEM Relationships

Relationship building is the cornerstone of success in any business. Regardless of how great we are at the technical stuff, there is a person behind every move we make and that person is either going to trust us or bounce. We don’t want bouncers. Stoney Degeyter, Founder and CEO at Pole Position Marketing urges us to always, “focus on the customer, not the algorithms”.  Make the user’s experience your priority. It’s not enough just to know SEO. A grasp of marketing fundamentals is essential to reaching your audience and garnering the staying power that will bump up your conversion rates. What is the crux of Marketing 101? Know your customer. So, know your customer.

Tor Refsland says that if he could go back in time he would have told himself “to grow some b*lls and become uncomfortable much sooner!” He would have started getting new clients right away, face-to-face. So get out there and show face.

Check in with industry peeps too. Nobody gets very far alone. The e-comm community is huge. Learn from as many people as you can. Garner good quality links by offering something of value. Bump up your social media presence.

Give TOFu and BOFu Equal Opportunity

We want to pay attention to everybody at every stage of the conversion cycle so we’ve got to know how to structure our content appropriately. The experts give a few suggestions here. Nail in on long-tail keywords to reach the BOFu kids. Stick to one topic at a time. Create pages to rank for individual head terms and focus on the low-competition keywords in your niche.

But the awareness phase is critical and you can’t gain interest unless you give people something useful. Steve Wiideman insists on links to free tools, guides, and checklists as a marketing strategy for garnering tons of TOFu interest.

Invest In Yourself

It’s easy to forget about our own brand when we’re focused on making it awesome for our clients. John Rampton and Michael Cottam urge us to take the advice we give our clients. Clients come and go with their millions. “What will stick with you is your own brand and assets. Build those and invest as much resources (sic) in those as you would your clients’ sites” (John Rampton, Founder and CEO, with over 1 million Twitter followers). Capitalize on what you practice everyday and know one or two things really well – this is your expertise. And study what you’re not practicing everyday to maintain an edge in the industry.

Craft Awesome New Content Every Week

The demand for high quality content won’t change anytime soon so unless you’re a blackhat you’ll want to maximize your content and repurpose it – a ingenious hack from Oleg Korneitchouk. Several experts commented on how they wished they’d known the value of investing in a marketing campaign, with regular, meaningful content at the top of the priority list. Josh Steimle, Founder of MW1 says it’s simple: “High quality work will attract high quality links. It’s a lot of hard work to create great content, but it’s a simple recipe.”  Good quality content helps the customer alleviate their pains and achieve their goals. This points back to relationships and making our brand trustworthy. But it has to be ongoing. Fresh content each week is essential to high organic ranking and traffic.

Get Your Hands Dirty

We’ve gotta be ballsy in this industry. If we want to know what it feels like to jump out of a plane, we’ve got to jump out of the plane. Take risks with what we know. Research. Experiment. Learn from the results. Experiential learning is the key to forming a knowledge base that will compound over time and support innovation. According to the experts, research and risk are our most profitable investments. Know how to code. Use PPC as a learning mechanism for SEO. Don’t be afraid to try and share with others – remember relationships? Eric Enge sums up SEO & PPC advice the best: “Establish yourself as knowing one aspect of it very, very well. Then, when you’re ready, work on adding a second area of expertise, and get to the point where you are recognized as an expert on that. Keep expanding on those things over time.”

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*Full article here: Round Up: What Advice Would’ve Changed Your SEO or PPC Career?

the Griswolds looking at the sky in front of a house with Christmas lights

Happy Holidays from Logical Mix

Taking time to reflect on the internet and digital marketing business in 2017 has brought much joy to our hearts.

The internet is becoming more user experience focused…and we like that trend! The 2018 digital marketing landscape is going to be filled with change. Adapt or die.

The Good News:

We’re on pace to reach our long term goals with all our clients.

Thanks to all our clients for trusting us and believing we are the right company to grow your company online. We will not let you down.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

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Shopify logo

What Lessons Can We Learn From Shopify?

What Makes Shopify One on the Most Innovative eCommerce Solutions on the Planet?

We’re glad you asked.

Did you know that in just one year, Shopify increased their revenue by 90%? It’s probably why some short sellers are questioning the business model.

In the matrix of digital marketing, Shopify has found their niche: customized, SEO-rich lures that have made them one of the most innovative and effective ecommerce solutions in the world.

Find out how Shopify cracked that egg better than the other guys in the industry–but who are they again?

They Help Customers Before They’re Even Customers….

Shopify’s “try before you buy” free trial provides time and tips to get your business up and running before you’ve paid a cent. Once hooked, their pricing system has budget-friendly options.

Then, they break down new business start-up step by step, right from the home page, and provide real examples that everyone can relate to.

Shopify discovers what people want and own it. They create ToFu content and subdomains from highly searched keyword phrases. Their useful content draws in and assists all kinds of folks.

Daily blogs. In-depth guides. Instructive podcasts. Video courses taught by industry experts. All expertly optimized. Shopify create interesting, usable, and varied content, a little something for everyone, without email opt-in. One stop shopping for ecommerce education.

Shopify address new business owner concerns through a seven-day email series. Each one takes you one baby step further in set-up. But it’s not entirely altruistic. The introductory email congratulates the new business owner, while the CTA button reminds of the extra goodies available with a paid plan.

In addition to baiting new customers, Shopify go fishing… at the competitor. They identify and solve the primary pain problem competitors’ customers have with straightforward copy.

And of course, Shopify make good with their old friends too.

Their Twitter support channel broadcasts their awesome customer support, which makes them look really good too, like that 22nd selfie…nailed it!

They Take Smart Risks….

Shopify inspired the entrepreneurial spirit of thousands through Build a Business. Seemingly crazy, and $uper risky, it was the motivation behind the start of thousands of new, successful businesses, for a total revenue of $3,543,191 by shop owners. BOOM.

They make evergreen webinars available almost as soon as you sign up. Then they advertise them as a limited time offer (except they aren’t). This creates a speed-laced dangling carrot that turns traffic into regular users.

They Roll With the Big Guys….

How about a brilliant affiliate marketing scheme that benefits everyone? Shopify’s done it. With their affiliate referral system, Shopify have turned their customers into a mass-marketing, super-bomb Shopify team. And they use industry innovators to create awesome apps and designs just for Shopify–so they can hoard the good ideas for themselves.

And, for every app they partner with, they create keyword-rich, integrated landing pages that lead potentials to their free trial.

They Juice Up the Dry Stuff….

Shopify get how significant those little CTA buttons are. Theirs use a different kind of speak to respond to email subscribers. Totally refreshing. But who cares about the newsletters? It’s all about the free-trial, right?!

They have designed an attractive, interactive, and current product update page that gets thousands of social shares without any buttons.

They make meat of ToFu with perfectly-matched ad copy, super specific PPC landing pages, and MoFu keywords that lead the searcher to exactly what they want.

And all those little things, like logging and out stating the terms of service (yawn)… They take them to the next level, to be just that bit better than the other guys–remember them?

This all just smacks of clever business sense.

*All material researched and used can be found at: Shopify’s Website

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Banner with text of 12 Steps to SEO success.

12 SEO Steps to Success

This SEO Checklist will send YOU down the Path of Internet Success.

Ask yourself these 12 SEO questions frequently during your marketing campaign:12 SEO Steps to Success printable jpeg

This list has taken the length of my career to make. Creating 12 summarized sentences to get to the heart of search engine optimization was a hard task indeed and by no means complete. It is worth noting, that over time, some of these practices will shift or become extinct altogether.

This is Logical Mix’s, 2017 version of the “12 SEO Steps to Success“.

I hope it serves you well!

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*Here is the text, if you are having a hard time viewing the image:

1. Keyword Research

Am I matching search queries to my service/product offering?

2. Competitive Research

Have I found usable insights from top organic competitors?

3. Web Analytics

Have I implemented Google Analytics & Google Search Console?

4. On-Page SEO

Am I using Step 1’s insights for page targeting & structuring?

5. Local SEO

Have I built & fixed online citations for my business?

6. Reviews

Do I have a strategy for gathering reviews from happy customers?

7. Technical SEO

Are my relevant web pages being crawled & indexed?

8. User Experience

Is my website intuitive & frictionless throughout?

9. Content Creation

Am I creating quality content that solves the searcher’s problems?

10. Content Marketing

Am I marketing the quality content I created?

11. Internet Partners

Have I been building relationships with non-competing companies?

12. Off-Page SEO

Am I building authority to my site from external websites?

writer at computer

How To Write SEO Content Like A PRO

If you’re wondering how to become an SEO expert writer, grab a coffee, sit down, and take ten minutes to read this simple guide.

Are you a writer just entering the world of SEO content writing? Has your writing for SEO become dull or lifeless? Are you struggling to increase traffic to your blog or website? Do you understand what SEO actually is?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a “marketing discipline”, according to MOZ, focused on improving organic (non-paid) rankings in Google searches and increasing traffic to webpages. Everybody who is anybody that has a website or blog of any kind wants a piece of this action.

The world of SEO is complex but don’t be deterred. Just learning a few basics about how to write expert SEO content is enough to improve your site’s ranking and traffic. You really don’t need to be a rocket scientist. If you can shuck a corn husk, you’ll do fine with SEO writing. So let’s start with the basics and go from there.

WHAT IS SEO WRITING?

First of all, SEO expert writing involves finding the right keywords and phrases and weaving them effectively into your content to generate traffic to your site.

But there’s a little more to it than that.

While there are some technical aspects to learn, creativity is equally important. How you write is as important as what you write. Writing to attract and engage an audience and writing for SEO purposes aren’t that different.

Let’s suss out the requirements of both aspects to get a clearer picture of how to be a SEO expert writer, both technically and creatively.

WRITE IT WITH BRICKS AND MORTAR

Your keywords are the bricks, your content is the mortar. You need both. You can stack a bunch of keywords together but the structure will eventually collapse without the glue. Similarly, mortar without bricks is kind of a waste. You can write the most beautiful, interesting piece of content but if no one but your mom is reading it, what’s the point?

To find the right keywords you’ve got to do the research, and not just once.

Long before I learned about SEO my routine was to gather a list of sensible-sounding keywords based on my topic, chuck them into my copy, wash my hands, and move to the next task. This is like trying to assemble IKEA furniture without the helpful little diagrams… good intentions don’t always produce the desired result!

But how does one do keyword research? I’m glad you asked.

CHOOSE A FOCUS KEYWORD & DEVELOP A STRATEGY

Indeed, choosing a focus keyword is essential. It determines how your site will rank and how readers will find you. Look at sites similar to yours. What are they writing about? What keyword search brought you to those sites? What questions do you want your site to answer? What keyword or keyword phrase is most relevant to your site’s content? This is the first part of developing your keyword strategy.

For example, perhaps you want to write about how to write expert SEO content (okay, so no points for originality here but we’ll let it go for the purpose of example). What words are you typing into Google (or heaven forbid, Bing)? Let’s see. How about “SEO expert writing” or “SEO expert writer” or variations of that: “how to write expert SEO content” or “writing expert SEO content” or “SEO expert content writing”.

These examples are considered long-tail keyword phrases because they’re comprised of three or more words. They make up 70% of web searches. Long-tail keyword phrases help you zone in on a more specific target than a simple search for “SEO” that will return thousands of general results–have fun weeding! So, gently tailor your focus keyword to your topic.

Next, there are plenty of tools out there to help you research additional keywords, free and not-so-free. Yoast for example, is a WordPress plugin that analyzes your content against your chosen focus keyword and can generate keyword expansions.

A freebie resource like Moz Keyword Explorer offers the same and is an extremely simple tool to get you started on keyword research and strategy development. There are plenty out there. At this moment, Google’s free Keyword Planner tool is not that useful anymore unfortunately.

You can also pay a SEO expert who specializes in creating quality content, understands Google’s algorithms and they can do all the heavy lifting for you.

Do not take KEYWORD RESEARCH lightly! It is the backbone of your SEO campaign or any campaign you want to conduct online.

ORGANIZE YOUR INFO AROUND YOUR OBJECTIVE

It’s natural to want to just jump right in and get writing. But, just like you should wax your board before you surf, adequate preparation is essential for success in the next steps.

Create an outline. You’ve chosen your topic and your keywords. Now you can create the bones of your article. Choose a keyword-informed title and subheadings so that you can organize your thoughts and stay true to your objective. (This also helps Google sort you out but we’ll get there in a minute).

What’s your objective? Writing interesting content that people will want to read, peppered strategically with SEO keywords. Right?!

Now, organize your keyword information so you can keep track of how often you use certain keywords and phrases. A spreadsheet is a good way to accomplish this–especially if you’re a spreadsheet junkie!

The most important part is your keyword research in the spreadsheet and how you use that information in your content. However, bricks and mortar without a design are just a pile of sand and stone in the end. Organizing your hard earned research findings is key.

That brings us to the next, less technical, but equally important step in writing expert SEO content.

BE A RESPONSIBLE SEO WRITER!

Now we’re diving into the more creative aspect of SEO expert writing. But it’s not all fancy-free and foot-loose ways here. There are some important creative considerations you should make before jumping into the surf and allowing your flair to take over. SEO-safety first please folks.

Avoid making your content a keyword dumping ground. It’s lazy, ineffective, and even damaging to your site’s performance to jam keywords into your final copy. You’ve done the research so be tactical in your next steps.

Be a responsible SEO writer and place your keywords appropriately throughout your text to avoid damaging its readability. Roll them in naturally as you write, rather than trying to jam them into your first draft. If it feels like stuffing, rethink your strategy.

Your chosen, tactical keywords should feature prominently in your article but avoid overusing them. Yoast recommends including your focus keyword in the first 300 words, and in the first main heading (H1) or subheading (H2).

STRUCTURE YOUR COPY

Keep your sentences short and concise, no more than approximately 20 words. And, avoid lengthy paragraphs. Few tasks are more daunting than weeding out the gold nuggets of information in paragraphs longer than a showgirl’s legs. Such a task makes your eyes bleed and we naturally want to stop doing anything that causes bleeding. Make it easy on your readers. Break up the paragraphs into two or three sentences.

Use headings and subheadings. They organize your content to make it more readable and to assist Google in extracting your copy’s main topics to improve your site’s ranking. Anything that helps Google read your site… helps your site!

And a mention on article length. The average word-count for blogs and content articles is 1500. I don’t recommend less than 400 or more than 3000. Readers will typically scan for specific information, hence the headings, concise sentences and short paragraphs. Make your content readable. Make your readers want to stay a while.

 

WRITE QUALITY CONTENT REGULARLY

If you’re writing for your own site don’t think that posting a few blogs or articles when you’re starting up is enough. Your numbers may spike but then settle right back down unless you’re generating new and quality content regularly. And with that, as mentioned, comes regular keyword searching and strategizing. This is an ongoing process and one of the most important ways of improving SEO.

ENJOY THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Now you have some basics for writing your own SEO content (or someone else’s)! Informed writing is always better than ignorant writing so good for you for indulging in this ten minute learning break!

And writing for SEO doesn’t have to be a task you approach begrudgingly. The best advice I can offer is to write what you know and then learn how to write it well to support your SEO objective–remember your objective! If you need to know more, research. Web surfing is one of the best activities you can engage in to learn more about SEO expert writing, content writing, and blogging. (And can I just add how unintelligible that statement would have sounded 30 years ago–I’m picturing spiders on surf boards).

So, now you’ve got your SEO swimmies on, you’re ready to enter the wonderful world of SEO expert writing. Go on, get wet–but remember to practice safe surfing!

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*featured image courtesy of Wellesley College
cars in dark traffic jam at night with lights on

Does My Search Engine Marketing Have Dark Traffic?

Dark Traffic Makes A SEO’s Life More Interesting.

Dark traffic is statistically usually under “Direct Traffic” in Google Analytics, and is being referred from an unknown/untraced source (and for some reason being lumped into Direct Traffic).

As a SEO, you must try to figure out where this website traffic is coming from. Get the credit you deserve.

What does this Mean for My Search Engine Marketing?

It means you have to search for stats in other places and on your own. You can also help your company by adding some tools to your arsenal. You’ll never be able to track 100% of “Dark Traffic”, but from our research, this is the best article to read regarding Dark Traffic. That article should send you on the right path.

We Hope That Helped

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