In this post, I’m going to show you how to launch a successful SEO campaign from start to finish.
This is the exact same SEO strategy I’ve used to help take a blog to over 168,000 visitors per month in search engines (read: Google search)…
And it’s the same SEO strategy I’ve used to triple organic traffic in 3 months. (OK… so going from 300 visitors to 1200 visitors isn’t a huge deal, but we’re climbing rapidly. 🙂 )
This is the seo strategy that is the center of all of our content marketing efforts.
You're going to learn about:
So let’s dive right in.
At the heart of any SEO campaign is keyword research.
I want to share three of my favorite keyword research strategies to find highly targeted keywords and help get your SEO campaign off to a great start.
We’ll talk about “Low Hanging Fruit” keywords that appeals to your target audience and you’ll attract buyers for your product or service.
You’ll learn how to find proven content ideas so you’re not “guessing” what type of content will work best.
And you’ll learn how to perform a content gap analysis so you can borrow your competitor’s keywords.
Low Hanging Fruit
One of my favorite ways to find low hanging fruit traffic is to create an article called “best product category”.
Let’s take the example of an ecommerce industry like “throwing axes”.
We can create a blog post for the keyword: “best throwing axe”.
This keyword has a keyword difficulty of 2 and a search volume of 500, which means there is an opportunity to get quite a bit of traffic without a lot of link building.
Here’s the page one search engine rankings for the keyword best throwing axe.
As you can see, none of the articles have more than 9 links (and many of them have 0 links).
I’ll show you how this works “in the real world” with a page that I built for a software company called Time Doctor.
I created an article on our site for the keyword “best call center software”. Call center operators are one of our best user avatars.
According to Ahrefs, the keyword Best Call Center Software gets 200 searches per month.
We only rank #10 for this keyword (A new article that we’re still growing). And this blog post consistently gets 200 visitors a month.
That’s 200 people per month looking for a call center software.
Imagine for a second that 200 people are coming to your site, reading this article, looking for your product category.
That’s why I love “low hanging fruit” keywords.
Let me break down how to do this step by step.
Step 1: Identify all Product Categories
Let’s go back to our throwing axe example.
Obviously, the product category is “throwing axe”.
But, you can get a bit more creative as well.
- - You can use the axe camping so “camping axe” could be a category.
- - You can also use the axe for wood splitting, so “wood splitting axe” could be a category
- - And to be even more creative, you can look at categories like “Groomsmen Gift Ideas”
Step 2: Find list posts using adjectives like top/best
Like our “Call Center Software” post, most list posts have the adjectives “top” or “best” in the title.
So, a keyword like “best camping axe” has a keyword difficulty of 1 and a search volume of 600.
And the first page of Google is filled with list posts, meaning that we can also create a list post of best camping axes and rank for it.
Step 3: Put your product first on the list
Most people aren’t going to scroll down more than a few places on your list.
So for best results, you want to put your product, company, or service in the top spot.
Let’s say you’re looking for some really cool article ideas. But you want to write articles that are proven.
If your company designs logos, you’ll want to write articles around “logos”.
Using a tool like Content Explorer, you can find proven content ideas around the topic of logos.
Then I apply some filters. First, I am only interested in articles that get at least 500 visitors a month.
And I’m only interested in articles that have less than 10 referring domains linking to them. (I’m looking for articles that aren’t competitive.)
Finally, I’ll set a traffic value at $200. I’m looking for traffic that has commercial value, as opposed to news sites and articles.
With these filters in place, I was able to find 235 pages that fit my criteria.
One of the major patterns that I found was a lot of articles are centered around design trends:
So, I would spend quite a bit of time writing about logo design trends.
Content Gap Analysis
Last but not least, discovering what your competitor’s rank for that you don’t is a great way to find even more keyword ideas for your SEO campaign.
However, instead of just looking at keywords, I like to look at Top Pages.
For instance, at Time Doctor, our biggest competitor is Toggl.com. After filtering out the brand’s keyword, you can get a sense for which pages get the most traffic to them.
You’ll also see the top keyword as well as how many links each page has.
The next part of the SEO campaign is to create high quality content.
You’ll learn how to analyze the SERPs so you know exactly what kind of content to create.
Some keys to write amazing content.
And we’ll discuss how frequently you should publish to your blog.
Before I learned about SEO, I used to stare at a blank screen and wonder what to write about.
But now, I just let Google tell me what to write about so I can match the search intent and user experience with what is proven to work.
By analyzing the Search Engine Results Page. AKA SERP. (Basically, page 1 of Google.)
For instance, let’s say I want to write an article about the keyword “best throwing axe”. I have a few options. I could write an in depth review of a throwing axe that I really like. I can write a list post of throwing axes. Or I can survey what experts think is the best throwing axe.
But, if I just analyze the SERP, it’s pretty clear what I should write:
So if you look at these results, a few things stand out.
First, all of the posts are list posts.
And second, a majority of the posts talk about reviews.
So, a blog post reviewing the 10 best throwing axes would probably work very well.
Instead of staring at the screen, guessing what I should write, I can quickly get over “blank page syndrome” by determining what type of content works best in Google.
Creating Good Content
Now it’s time for the hard part: creating the content!
Everyone in marketing these days seems to be talking about creating 10x content. And to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what that means.
Good content is totally subjective.
It’s subjective to the reader: one person might think this article is amazing… and someone else might think it sucks.
And it’s subjective to the industry: good content is the throwing axe niche is not going to be the same as good content in the marketing or personal finance niche.
Marketing and personal finance are much more competitive and much more scrutinized industries when it comes to seo.
But here are a few guidelines to help you create content no matter what industry you’re in.
Throughout the Entice blog, you’ll see all sorts of screenshots traffic stats.
Because I want to prove to you that what I’m talking about is actually working. (Then maybe you’ll hire us. 🙂 )
For instance, I can say that I’ve increased organic traffic to a blog by 3x in a month… Or I can show you a screenshot of that happening.
Much more powerful, right?
As Chip and Dan Heath prove in their book “Made to Stick”, people remember stories.
One of the best ways to make your content memorable and to make your brand memorable is to tell a story that people can relate to.
In many of my posts, emails, and even home page, I have a story that starts like this:
And ends with me having learned how to grow a blog.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate story, but just something that people remember.
Images don’t just make your blog look nicer, it turns out that articles with images get 94% more views than articles without images.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about Mailchimp Alternatives. So to implement images, I just took a screenshot of each tool.
A lot of the apps have images on their homepage. So I just used one of them. Sometimes you just have to get a bit creative with where you find your images.
Make Longer Lists
The only thing people love more than clicking on list posts?
Is clicking on really looonnng list posts.
For instance, I recently published a post about increasing website traffic.
If you look at the SERPs for the keyword “increase website traffic”, you’ll see that almost all of the results are list posts.
You have 15 ways, 25 ways, and even 50+ ways to increase traffic.
So, to make my post better, I did 101 ways to increase website traffic.
While it doesn’t rank on page 1 yet, that post has done pretty well when it comes to referral traffic.
In the first 6 weeks or so, to promote the post, all I really did was publish in one forum and email a few people telling them I mentioned them.
And we got almost 400 visitors.
People just love clicking on these posts!
When it comes to creating an SEO campaign, there are several steps:
We’ve talked about a few already, like keyword research, SERP analysis, and writing the post.
And there are steps that we’ll talk about in a few minutes like on-page optimization, promotion, and link building.
I get it, it’s a ton of work.
I see so many people talking about publishing once a month and spending all of their time promoting.
But no matter how much I do that, I ALWAYS see my biggest blogging gains when I publish at least once a week.
Check out my stats for Entice.
In June and July, when I was trying to figure out what Entice should be, I was publishing once a month and doing some promotion.
Then starting in August I started publishing once a week. And traffic grew every month.
Then in November and December, I experimented again with just promoting once a month, because that’s what I’ve been told works best.
But it didn’t work for me.
In fact, for the blog I showed you stats before where we essentially 3x’d traffic in 2 months, I am publishing twice a week!
If you don’t have a team of writers, that could be a hard pace to maintain. But the proof is in the pudding… so they say.
I’m not one to make absolutes on this blog “like you NEED to post x amount of times a month”. I’m just showing you what’s worked for me.
On Page SEO
Now that you your quality content, it’s time for some on page optimization.
Every post that we publish goes through a process to make sure that it capitalizes on Google’s primary ranking factors and is fully optimized.
The first thing we do is make sure the url contains the keyword and maybe one adjective.
But for the most part, our urls are very clean.
For instance, let’s say we’re writing a post on Timesheet Templates.
Our url will contain the word timesheet template, obviously.
And we added the word “free” because when doing our SERP analysis, we found the majority of the articles were about free timesheet templates.
So, we wanted to capitalize on that trend.
Adding the Keyword in the Title of the post
This is a bit self explanatory. But adding the keyword in the title of the post is a no brainer. However, not having it can have disastrous effects on how your post ranks.
If you notice, this headline isn’t cute or clever or anything like that. Basically, we wanted the headline to match the search intent for those looking for timesheet templates.
Adding the Keyword in the Subheads (h2)
Once we’ve put the keyword in the headline, we’ll add it to the subheadlines where appropriate. We try not to force it for the sake of adding it, but where it makes sense to do so, we’ll add the keyword.
With the timesheet templates post, we did make sure to use the keyword “Timesheet Template” without the “s”. I’m not sure if it makes a huge difference, but it doesn’t hurt.
LSI Keyword Analysis
Finally, we’ll do a keyword LSI Keyword Analysis.
This means we’ll look at all of the articles in the SERP to make sure that we are covering the same topics and themes that are already ranking. (You can use a tool called Clearscope or one of it's competitors to do this.)
For instance, if we’re analyzing the keyword Timesheet Template, we’re going to make sure that we mention as many of these keywords as we possibly can.
These are keywords pulled from the top 10 ranking articles. While it’s not crucial to have them in the article in order to rank, we have found that when we add these keywords, our articles get more traffic.
Compelling Title Tags
The more compelling the title tag, the more people will click on your post. The more people who click on your post, the more traffic you’ll get. The more traffic you get, the higher the post ranks.
And so on....
Brian Dean of Backlinko fame wrote a post about SEO Tools. Here’s the title tag for his post:
A few things to note about what makes this title tag compelling:
- 1. The date - meaning the post is relevant today.
- 2. The post says “complete list”. It peaks my curiosity because I didn’t know there was a complete list.
- 3. Backlinko is a strong brand in the SEO space. By attaching his name to that post, it signals quality.
Enticing Meta Descriptions
After you have a compelling title tag, it’s time to create an enticing description.
Once again, let’s take a look at Backlinko’s SEO Tools post. Below the title tag is the meta description.
This is super enticing.
- The sheer number of tools, not just listed, but reviewed, is insane!
- He mentions free tools as well. Who can resist free?
- He has a quick call to action: “See the best tools right here”.
There’s a lot going on in these few words.
Add Internal Links
Last but not least, we add links from older posts to the new blog post. And we add links from the new blog post to older posts. These links usually have anchor text that matches the keyword that we’re trying to rank for.
Now it’s time to build some links. And not just any links, but high quality links. If you’re totally new to SEO, then backlinks are basically the currency in SEO.
The more backlinks a page has, the more important Google thinks it is and the higher it will rank.
Two of my favorite ways to get links are guest posting and stealing my competitor’s links.
From the standpoint of getting traffic, guest posting is not nearly as effective as it was back in the day.
10 years ago, I’d write a guest post on a popular blog, get thousands of visitors and hundreds of email subscribers.
That simply doesn’t happen anymore.
These days, guest posting is one of my favorite ways to get links, especially from high domain authority sites.
For instance, It’s how we were able to get a link on Glassdoor.com (DA 90).
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Find a blog to write your post
So, the easiest way to find a blog to write for is to use Google.
You can simply enter the terms:
- - “Name of niche” and “guest blogger”
- - “Name of niche” and “write for us”
- - “Name of niche” and “guest writer”
And you’ll wind up with dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs who are accepting guest posts.
For instance, if I type in “Marketing” and “write for us”, I get pages and pages of blogs looking for guest posts:
Step 2: Analyze the Domain Authority
Let’s face it. Guest posting can take quite a bit of time. And you don’t want to waste that time on sties that don’t have a high domain authority.
Typically, I only write guest posts for sites with a domain authority greater than 60.
Step 3: Pitch the editor
Now that I’ve found a blog to write for, it’s time to pitch the editor.
The first thing I do is look for blog posts that have been successful and come up with an idea around how to spin a new angle.
For instance, if I notice a blog post called “10 ways to nurture leads” gets a lot of shares and comments, then I might do something like “A Case Study on How I Nurture Leads”. (Totally made up and a bad example, perhaps, but you get the point. I’d write my article around lead nurturing.)
Then, I’d pitch them using this script.
And it works almost all of the time! 🙂
Step 4: Write a killer post
Now it’s time to write a killer guest post. It has to be really good! You want to endear yourself to both the readers of the new blog AND the editor of the blog.
You may not get tons of traffic from your guest post, however, if you do good work for them, they will be much more inclined to share a future post or partner with you down the road.
Pro Tip: When you’re looking for blogs to write your guest post, make sure you’re allowed to include a link to your site in the body of your article and not just the author bio. Links in the content are worth more than links in the bio.
“Steal” Your Competitor’s Links
We’ve always called this strategy stealing our competitor’s links, however, I don’t know if we’ve ever once actually stolen one of their links.
Typically what happens is that the blog puts on the site along side of our competitor. The thinking is: if the person was linking to your competitor, then there is a chance that they’ll also link to you.
Either way, here’s how it works:
(Note: I’m going to show you how to do this in Ahrefs. However, you can also do this using a tool like Ubersuggest, which is free.)
Step 1: Identify Your Competitors
In the Keyword Explorer, you want to enter in the key word for which you’re trying to rank. In our case it would be Timesheet Template.
Then scroll to the bottom of the page and see who’s ranking in the top 10.
This will give you a list of all of your “competitor’s” who are ranking on the first page in Google. If you want to identify even more competitors because you need more people to link to, you can just click show more. This will give you the top 100 or so sites.
Step 2: Filter the Domains
Now we want to see who is linking to these pages. In the domain’s column, you’ll see the the number of domains that are linking to these pages. (These numbers are clickable.)
Click on the the first number to bring up a list of domains. And use the filter in the top left corner to see only the “dofollow” links.
Step 3: Export the Domains
Now it’s time to Export the domains into a spreadsheet. This will make it easier to add to a bulk email finder, if that’s the route you want to go.
Otherwise, you can find the email addresses manually.
Step 4: Email people asking for a link
Now it’s time to email people. We are constantly testing this template out to improve it. So instead of showing you an exact script, I’ll give you an idea of what’s working for us right now.
Subject: A better resource for your post
I came across your (post name). I liked the part where you mentioned (insert thing you liked)
I also noticed that you were linking to (competitor post name).
I think we may have a better resource for you.
Would you like me to send it over for you?
Like I said, this is sort of a template we’re using. Not a script. A few things to notice:
When it comes to tracking results, we tend to keep things simple.
We look simply look at Google Analytics.
In Google Analytics, we go to the Organic search report and see how traffic is doing.
For instance, this is the organic traffic we are getting from a blog I started working on two months ago.
Traffic is moving up and to the right at a pretty good clip. So, I’m happy.
(Note: We also keep very rigorous track of app signups. However, attribution is extremely difficult to achieve. Since our primary growth driver is SEO and signups go up as organic traffic goes up, we conclude that SEO is playing a key role in that.)
According to Matthew Barby (where I first learned about this strategy), Parasite SEO is “The goal of parasite SEO focuses on tapping into the authority of well-established websites to rank for competitive keywords and consequently funnel through the traffic to your own website.”
Let me show you what I mean.
For instance, There’s a blog called Codeinwp.com where they published a blog post called “7 Best Time Tracker Software Compared”.
After a very short time, this post actually ranked #1 and did quite well. (We’ve since built a few links to it to help secure it’s number 1 ranking.)
Yes, we helped a blog post on another website rank in Google. And it worked!
According to Ahrefs, this post gets 3100 organic visitors per month.
Now, I’ll show you where the magic happens.
On this article of 7 Best Time Tracker Software, Time Doctor is listed first:
Since this post has started ranking number one in google for best time tracker software, it’s driven between 250-400 visitors per month to our site (about 10% of that traffic converts to leads.)
If you’re just starting a new blog or launching a new product, Parasite SEO is a great way to help drive traffic in a very short amount of time by ranking your blog post on a high authority site.
Land and Expand
Once you rank for the head term, it become a LOT easier to rank for the long tail keywords as well.
This will help you squeeze every possible drop of traffic you can out of your blog post.
For instance, we rank #1 for the post “Online Collaboration Tools”.
I can use a tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or even Search Console to find the keywords in that post that rank between 4-20.
When I apply the filter, here’s what appears:
Now I can go back into the post and talk about these keywords in more depth so that they can rank even higher and get more traffic from the post.
Now it’s your turn…
SEO is a staple of digital marketing.
And I have found that search engine optimization is the most consistent long term traffic strategy for any business.
It’s more effective than social media. And it’s more effective that email marketing.
That’s why I wanted to create this step-by-step guide on how I launch a SEO campaign from start to finish.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned in this post and integrate SEO into your overall marketing campaign.
That way you can grow your traffic to your business and generate a consistent flow of new leads.