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Without being able to appear at the top of Google search results, it’s difficult to drive enough traffic to generate “buzz” and get people talking about your content. Without plenty of people talking about and sharing your content, Google doesn’t view it as influential enough to appear at the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

This catch-22 might seem to be an insurmountable problem at first, but there is a solution that relies on solid keyword research and identifying appropriate “long-tail” keywords.

SEO definition: A long-tail SEO term is any keyword or phrase for which there is relatively little traffic and as a result, most likely, less competition.

If you are unfamiliar with Google keyword research for SEO, I recommend you read the following articles:

  • Small business SEO tutorial: How to attract higher quality Google traffic
  • “Google insights for Search” as the best free SEO tool for small business SEO
  • Local SEO guide: How to refine local search terms to master Google search
  • How to research SEO keywords: Five SEO tips from top SEO experts

How to find the right long-tail SEO terms to increase website traffic

Targeting long-tail SEO terms to increase website traffic via Google search only works if you are able to correctly identify the “right” SEO terms in the first place. The right SEO terms have the following attributes:

  1. Relatively low monthly traffic
  2. Relatively low competition
  3. Relevant to your blog or small business
  4. Are focused and targeted to your ideal audience

Often, great long-tail keywords are slightly more focused versions of the SEO terms that you aren’t able to reach the top page on.

For example, you might not be able to reach the first page for the SEO phrase “small business SEO“, but you may be able to create content that uses the phrase “small business SEO 2012“, or “small business SEO tips“, or “small business SEO new york“.

The long-tail versions of the SEO keyphrase are still relevant, and, in addition, serve to further focus the content.

Why targeting long-tail SEO terms works to increase website traffic

Traffic coming from organic search results drops off very quickly the further down the results you appear. Google search traffic coming from a highly popular search phrase may be negligible if you’re on the third page of results.

Traffic from long-tail SEO terms is lower to start with, but, get to the top of the search results for that phrase and you are guaranteed a large portion of that traffic.

The ROI (Return On Investment) for content that appears at the top of long-tail SEO terms is much higher that the return on content that appears lower down the search results for highly popular search phrases.

Comparing traffic for long-tail and popular SEO terms

According to Search Engine Watch, the Top Google search result gets around 35% of clicks for that SEO term. Appearing on the second page of search results will garner about 1% of the clicks for that SEO term.

Plugging those numbers into an example, shows just how effective targeting long-tail SEO terms can be:

SEO term Traffic Competition Clicks (1st place) Clicks (2nd page)
SEO tips 22 000 high 7700 220
SEO strategy 3 600 medium 1260 36

From this it is plain to see that getting to the top of the less popular SEO term (SEO strategy) brings in approximately 6 times the traffic of a second page result for the popular SEO term (SEO tips).

I should point out that Competition in Google Adwords refers to the bidding competition of the advertisers for that phrase – not how many articles there are competing for the number one spot. However, it is a valid metric since the more advertising competition, the more financial incentive there is to create content that appears at the top of the search results.

Benefits of long-tail SEO

There are a number of extremely beneficial side effects to targeting long tail SEO terms, including:

  • More focused content
  • More targeted traffic
  • Higher conversions
  • Implicit PageRank improvement for high competition SEO terms

In effect, what you are doing by going after long-tail SEO terms is improving the focus of your content so that the traffic driven to your site is more targeted. Having highly targeted traffic arriving on your blog or small business website means that you are able to increase conversions rates and make more money.

In addition, Google still keeps an eye on your overall content quality, keywords, and popularity. If you are persistent and consistent, eventually Google will have no choice but to start improving your rankings for more popular search phrases, because your content still contains these terms.

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One thing I’ve always liked about WordPress SEO is that it guides you on where to focus in order to best optimize each page of your website. By selecting one keyword on which to base your writing, you create better, more relevant content for your reader while helping the search engines do their jobs.

The WordPress SEO plugin gives you three tabs to help with the SEO process. The first, shown below, enables you to select your focus keyword, write your SEO Title (what appears at the top of your browser) and your Meta Description. The SEO Title and Meta Description create the snippet that will appear in the search engine results pages. If you choose a focus keyword, the plugin gives you information on whether you have used the keyword in the right places.

The page analysis tab highlights key optimization areas and provides insight into how well your page is optimized. The icons on the left are red, yellow and green depending on whether you have met the suggested criteria for well optimized web pages.

In the Advanced tab, you can set various index and follow options to guide the search engines. It also includes a 301 redirect capability in the event you want to remove a page and point the URL to one that is active. Mostly you can leave the settings as defined in the WordPress SEO plugin settings, but these are good to have if you need to create an exception.

Visual Triggers to Keep Your SEO on Track

In the new release, there are now more visual triggers to help you get the most from your content. In the publish box of your WordPress dashboard is a little indicator that is red, yellow or green depending on whether the page has met the criteria.

That same indicator is also shown on the Admin bar when viewing a page on your live site.

And where I really like the changes is in the list of pages and post. The plugin has added three columns to show the Title, Meta Description and the Focus Keyword that you used. This is a great reminder in case you forget to optimize the page or post. If the area is blank or the SEO indicator is gray, you need to do some work.

All of these new reminders keep SEO very visible. Each post can be optimized as you write it, but I bet your pages have not been reviewed in a while. Check your list of pages and see which ones you need to work on.

On page SEO is important but in my experience, it is too easy to overlook because of all the details. Most small business owners have enough on their task lists and SEO is one that never rises to the top. However, now with this plugin, whether or not your content is optimized is very visible. Look at SEO as a challenge to turn your indicator from red to green.

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  • Some website owner has a myth that they can use homepages as the landing pages of their online business. However, it doesn’t make sense practically. As said earlier websites are targeting customers in mass and don’t focus on any particular task. Instead landing pages can be optimized specifically to direct potential audience on the homepage of your website
  • Make sure that your landing page doesn’t miss out on the essential design elements like headline, sub-headline and a short description of what your website is offering.
  • The easiest is the navigation system, the longest user will stay on your landing page. Remove all the unnecessary links and navigation buttons from the landing page. Over optimized navigation or redundant navigation options, both influence visitors to switch on your competitor’s website.
  • A landing page is always designed with a specific purpose. Often the businesses have dedicated team of marketers who define the marketing strategies and goals for businesses. Know your objective and make sure your landing page design showcase your vision in the most effective manner.
  • Content relevancy is an another significant thing in the success of a landing page design. The visitors are directed to your landing pages from various sources. But, in all cases you need to make sure that the source and destination content of the link has some relevancy in them.
  • It is recommended to make use of bulleted points on the landing page as it lessen friction.
  • Don’t think that you will share some great information only after the user clicks on the download button or on a quote request button. Share the useful information up front.
  • In the quote request form, don’t ask for more and unnecessary information. The longer the form, the less chance of users taking interesting in filling it.
  • Make multiple landing pages for your website. This will help you get more leads to your website. You can also provide social media buttons on the landing pages so visitors can share your content on their social media profiles.
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Are you sending your hard-won search traffic to a …com or a .com?

A Landing Page Is A Complete Sentence

Your B2B search traffic should not be asked to fill in the blanks like a sentence that ends in an ellipsis. You may introduce confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty.

Your home page is often guilty of asking the visitor to figure out what lies between their search and your solution.

A landing page or microsite offers a complete sentence.

There are three main parts to a sentence,and your landing pages should contain them all. Every sentence should have the following form:

You should do a specific thing to get an answer to your immediate questions.

You Are Not The Subject

The first part of your .com sentence is the subject. You are not the subject, your visiting searcher is.

Do your pages start with your company name, your product, or the pronoun “We”? If so, I suspect your page is about you. It’s hard to complete a sentence when you’re talking about yourself.

We are…

If so, you have taken your searchers to a www.oursite…com.

A search for “enterprise business planning” brings us to this page. We learn a lot about Xerox from Xerox on their landing page, but what about my enterprise business planning questions?

The Verb Is The Action

Just because our visitors are the action, doesn’t mean we don’t want them to do something that helps our business. Your call to action should be clear and obvious.

Of course, this can be a problem when we expect searchers in all parts of the sales funnel.

Oracle responds to my “enterprise business planning” query with a lot of features and benefits. Their calls to action are muted, however. If I’m not determined to find the next step toward my questions, I’ll miss the payoff.

A search for “Cognos 10″ brings me to this landing page. DataClarity has three verbs in their landing sentence: request a demo, get a quote, or read a 572-page eBook. Their sentence is

You should do this or that or the other to answer your immediate questions.

This is a page with a period.

You Are Not The Object

The object of your sentence is the goal of the searcher. It is your offer. Your destination, whether a landing page or microsite should focus on the offer, not your business or products.

This may be surprising. It’s hard not to talk about yourself when marketing. It is a waste of pixels for a searcher trying to understand their problem.

If you find yourself with a high bounce rate from your search traffic, you are probably putting desires ahead of your visitor’s questions.

In response to my query “enterprise business planning,” SAP offers a list of resources that could answer my questions. However, clicking on any of them opens a onerous form. It makes me wonder what I’m getting myself into.

You should do a specific thing to get an answer to our immediate questions, and then…

The few leads this experience might generate may be highly motivated, if they are willing to give you their address, phone number, title and more without knowing what they are getting. Those early in their research will be missed.

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Whether you have a small team in a Mom & Pop or you’re coordinating content creation within a Fortune 100, the reasons for why a team member can’t contribute are pretty much universal. Here are the the 5 most common excuses that I have come across and how you can overcome them…

Excuse: “I’m Out Of Ideas.”

Solution: Provide An Idea Bank

You shouldn’t place the entire burden of ideation on the people creating your content. Everyone has ideas to contribute, and you should be listening to ideas from all levels of your organization. The more people in the company who are contributing ideas, the better your content will reflect your brand.

Get your whole company involved in the ideation process…

  • Develop a system for collecting ideas. This doesn’t need to be fancy — even a shared document or a suggestion box will work.
  • Select the best ideas and add them into a document accessible by all content contributors. From there, your team can choose from this pre-approved idea list for each assignment.
  • Additionally, offer at least three idea suggestions when you assign a content project.

Excuse:“I Don’t Have Time.”

Solution: Plan, Plan, Plan

Adding the additional responsibility of content creation on top of an employee’s normal workload is tricky. This is why editorial planning is crucial.

  • Create an editorial calendar, and give access to everyone involved in content creation.
  • Give ample lead time before a content project is due (aim for at least a month in advance).
  • Develop a process for communicating and assigning deadlinesThen stick to it!
  • Schedule milestones along the way, such as due dates for an idea, outline, and first draft. These mini-deadlines will keep employees from waiting until the last minute to get started.
  • Establish a clear workflow process and guidelines, and update these as you tweak your procedures.

Excuse: “I’m Not A Good Writer.”

Solution: Don’t Expect Everyone To Write

The desire or ability to write should never be a prerequisite for your content contributors. Content marketing requires an arsenal of multi-disciplinary strengths and there are few people out there who excel at all of these.

Get your “non-writing” employees involved in other aspects of content marketing based on their strengths:

  • Research and data analysis. Let your most analytical team members help gather and analyze data for infographics, white papers, and other research-heavy content.
  • Quality assurance and fact checking. Detail-oriented employees can comb through your content with a fine-toothed comb, picking out inaccuracies, typos and grammatical errors.
  • Promotion. Here’s where your most socially-connected employees can shine by helping seed your content on their most active social networks.

Excuse:“I’m Scared To Write Publicly.”

Solution: Have A Strong Support System

Creating content that will be subject to both internal and external scrutiny is an understandably daunting task for anyone. Truth be told, most of your employees are just plain scared of how their work will be judged by your staff and industry peers. Lessen their fears by offering a support network and resources.

An editor should act as each contributor’s agent, guiding their content from ideation to publication. This is the person who decides when something is strong enough to publish, and when it needs to be scrapped or revised —  they’re protecting not only your brand but your employees as well. With a great editor, your team will feel secure that nothing less than remarkable content will be published under their name.

Excuse: “I Don’t Want To Give Away Too Much.”

Solution: Explain How Sharing Knowledge Makes Them Look Good

In the corporate world of contracts and trade secrets, talking about what your business does (for free!) may seem like a total conflict of interest. Assure your employees that both your editorial and marketing team will shelf any content that reveals too much, but it will rarely — if ever — get to that point since you’ll be guiding them throughout the process.

What many don’t realize is sharing knowledge makes them look good and often makes their job easier. Make the case that this effort helps not only the company, but the employee, too. Great content serves to:

  • Educate potential customers
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Builds professional reputation
  • Improves their digital footprint

Conclusion

Every day, your entire team works toward making your company successful (assuming you have a good team!). Content marketing is just one more opportunity for all employees to do this.

If you’re still hearing too many excuses, you may not being doing one (or all) of these things effectively…

  • Provide Ongoing Training. Similar to how you onboard new employees, you’ll need to train new contributors. Allow enough time for training before you expect someone to complete a content project. Always communicate changes in process or direction to everyone involved.
  • Share Success Stories. Did you get a handful of great leads as the result of a piece of content? Did a major publication syndicate your blog post? Did you gain a ton of backlinks from an infographic? Communicate these wins with your entire company. This is often the best way to illustrate the true benefits of content marketing.
  • Remember to Give Praise. Content creation is full of revising, critiques, and suggestions. Avoid focusing only on what needs to be fixed about your employees’ content. Be sure you’re giving proper credit and praise for a job well done.
  • Only Publish Content You’re Proud Of.  I recently gave a presentation in which I stressed the importance of being completely obsessed with all of your content. This may sound kind of nutty, but think about it: if you can’t even get excited about the content you’re creating, how do you expect your entire team to care, let alone people outside of your company?