Part One –Fundamentals Drive Success
When it comes to SEO in 2019, our headline in this article might seem a bit misleading – how could there be only 6 things that matter most for SEO in 2019? SEO is made up of so many details. While that’s true, you can structure what matters most into 6 categories. In this two blog series, we’ll break down these 6 points and see how you can use them to build powerful digital marketing campaigns.
1) Keyword Research
This has been the backbone of effective SEO since the dawn of search engine optimization. It’s more important than ever because SEO is more competitive than ever. A good way to go about researching key phrases is to use a tool that will provide Google monthly search volume estimates, then go to a second or even third tool, and input several seed phrases to find long-tail variations you can work into your copy.
Start with some seed keywords (a few that you would like to be found for in search results), and let the tools help you find top variations people are searching for. In this example, the most important key phrase is dog treats. It is searched over 27,000 times per month:
dog treats 27,100
Once you know that you have a solid opportunity with ‘dog treats,’ you have to dig deeper, because this phrase is very broad. There are many types of dog treats. So you use a long-tail keyword tool to find variations on the phrase (usually comprised of several words). Basically, you need to find some niche phrases that describe the top kinds of dog treats that dog owners want. Check out these findings:
dog treats homemade 22,200
dog treats pumpkin 4400
dog treats for training 2900
dog treats for bad breath 480
dog treats made in USA 320
There are many more types of dog treats; hundreds of variations you can tap into, depending on what your purpose is. Perhaps you sell some of these varieties; or maybe you want to create articles with recipes for some of these treats. The point is that you need to incorporate relevant key phrases into your code and copy – by doing this, you are making connections between what people are searching for (their problems) and what you have to offer (solutions).
You’ll want to input these keywords into page headlines, body copy, and calls to action in a natural way; where they will naturally fit. Begin by using the phrases as themes around which you’ll create fresh content (more on that in a minute). You’ll map the keywords to specific pages, and use additional key phrase variations to flesh out your content. Two important places to install key phrases are discussed next.
2) HTML Titles & Meta Descriptions
Every page on your website needs a unique title and meta description. While search engines may be able to discern what a page is about, it’s always better to tell them what it is about.
Think about this: whenever you have performed a keyword search, you’ve seen in the search results a list of blue titles (links to websites) and one or two sentences beneath each title, describing what the page is about. It’s from scanning these search results that you decide which one to click; which website you will visit. When you write HTML titles and meta descriptions, you are literally writing for search results. (At times Google and other engines may decide to write your HTML titles and meta descriptions from copy on the page; but often they will appear in search results as you wrote them.)
This is an incredible opportunity to reach a large volume of people searching for your product or service, every month on search engines. You want to think of HTML titles and meta descriptions as your chance to speak directly with them. You want to include key phrases in both your HTML title and meta description tags (as close to the beginning of the tags as you can). In your meta description you will want to provide a short (up to around 250 characters, including spaces) message that will entice searchers to click through to your website.
The trick is to sound enticing, but not to sound spam-like or too salesy. Here’s an example of an HTML title and meta description that can stimulate click through to a website:
Chocolate Ice Cream Bar Perfection | Johnson’s Ice Cream
The key phrase is ‘chocolate ice cream bar.’ That phrase goes at the beginning, as it is the most important. The word ‘perfection’ is a word to entice the reader. You can substitute another word or two there, or even research some long-tail keyword variations to add. Then you place a pipe separator, and then the brand name.
The optimal length in 2019 for HTML titles runs from 50-60 characters; but for some searches Google displays nearly 70 characters. A good rule of thumb is to try to go for the 60 character length, but if it needs to be longer, definitely ensure that the primary key phrase for the page is placed prominently in the HTML title.
As for meta descriptions, you have more leeway. The recommended length for these has been all over the map in recent years. Best practices indicate that the description should be informative and enticing, without going on for paragraphs. A good length is usually at least 160 characters, including spaces, and in various cases, up to 250 characters, including spaces. This gives ample room to place the primary key phrase prominently and to help people anticipate what they will see when they click through to your website.
If the meta description doesn’t match what the searcher is looking for, the chances he or she will click through are greatly reduced. People scan search results quickly; and they rarely go beyond the first page, and much more rarely, beyond the second page of results. The meta description is your elevator pitch, in a sentence or two, to get people to click through to your site.
Here’s a meta description example relating to the ice cream bars discussed above:
Don’t just eat a chocolate ice cream bar: savor Johnson’s Ice Cream; it’s ice cream bar perfection! Three flavors – fudge, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. So delicious they won’t stay in your freezer long! Buy a box now with our 25% off coupon!
The main key phrase is placed near the beginning of the description; the brand name is included; there’s tantalizing (yet accurate) information about the product; plus, a very specific call to action. Not bad for only 247 characters, including spaces.
3) Fresh Content
Sometimes people forget that content includes more than text. It can be images, video, infographics, social media posts, email messages, podcasts – content is a vehicle to get your message into the hands of your audience. To do that, you need a content plan.
The way to win with content is to plan it out so you have a continuous (and ideally never ending) stream of messages that keep your audience engaged. The content has to be relevant to your user base. Identify and solve their problems, make them laugh, draw them in – it’s all about them. Focus on their needs, and show how your company offers the solutions they want.
A good way to get the most out of a content idea is to create several formats – you want as many people as possible (in your target audience) to interact with your content. Not everyone learns the same way: some people like to read articles, others like to listen to podcasts, and still others are visual learners and respond to infographics. So you’ll use a variety of content formats to reach your audience.
Let’s say you want to show people the incredible home remodeling projects your company has completed throughout San Diego. Here’s how you can approach it:
- You can write an illustrated article about it.
- Then you can place that article on your blog and send an email blast to your list, pointing them to the blog.
- You can create social posts that link back to the blog.
- Then you’ll create an explainer video that shows every step in your kitchen remodeling process.
- Then you’ll update your blog with that video, and let your social followers know.
See how this works? It’s a continuous stream of helpful and informative content that’s interconnected. The main point to remember in the messaging is that it won’t motivate people if it’s all about you. Your focus should be on a pain point or issue your audience needs a solution for – you are that solution! Maybe your audience is interested in remodeling older homes. You could create content around updating a kitchen in a 1920s home, and how to do it on a budget, and with style. The key is to find out what your audience wants and create content around that.
Hit the Ground Running with Your Campaigns
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