I know what you're thinking. This bloke's got some bloody nerve preaching about blogging when he hasn't even posted on his own site for over a year.
It's a fair cop. I haven't been around here much recently, mainly because I've been too busy earning a crust working on SEO and content strategies to grow traffic and revenue for my clients.
Irish Software Company:
Global Packaging Company:
I've spent a lot of time at the coalface over the past year testing out some new SEO ideas to see what really works and what doesn't. There are too many “SEO gurus” out there who just regurgitate the stuff that others are saying, without actually testing out the theories themselves. What use is it going about the importance of backlinks, or content, or social media “engagement” when you don't understand why they make a difference or how to actually implement the strategies properly?
I'm in a position to tell you what techniques and strategies will really make a difference to your rankings in 2016.
Over the next few weeks, I'll share my findings with you. Some stuff will be fairly basic, others a little more advanced. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to implement my recommendations yourself. Of course, if you'd prefer to get a specialist to do it for you, just hire an SEO expert.
So, let's get started.
Your website doesn't have a God-given right to rank anywhere in Google
I still get lots of enquiries from companies with poorly built 5-page websites, that haven't been updated in 3 years, angry and frustrated because they languish on page 78 of Google for their main keyword. I have to remind them that no website has a God-given right to appear top of the search results. They have to give Google a bloody good reason to rank their site above other sites that have made an effort to give value to their visitors.
Google doesn't have a monopoly on search. It competes with other search engines, like Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo, for your clicks. Google, like the other search engines, derives the bulk of its revenue from pay-per-click ads, so the more people who use its search services, and click on the paid ads, the more revenue Google earns.
But if users can't find what they're looking for in Google, they could potentially use a rival search engine, which means lost pay-per-click revenue for Google. So there's a powerful commercial incentive for Google to deliver the best search results possible – to keep its users happy and loyal. Which is why it's spending $Billions developing an algorithm that delivers the best search results by giving top ranking to websites that deserve to be there.
So don't be fooled by offers from SEO agencies that claim to be able to get you top rankings for €199 per month. They're talking utter horseshit. And you'll end up having to pay a lot of money to someone like me, who knows what they're doing, to get rid of all the crappy links because Google has deindexed you from their search results.
The most important ranking factors in 2016
When there are lots of websites trying to get top ranking for a popular search phrase, how does Google decide which ones to rank in the top 10? It takes hundreds of factors into account, but one which has grown in importance over the last few years is “Domain Authority”(DA). DA is a metric created by Moz.com, for rating a website on a scale of 1-100, (100 being the best and 1 being the worst). The higher a website's DA, the more likely its content will rank strongly in search engines.
How do you improve your site's Domain Authority?
DA consists of 40 ranking signals, such as the number of links pointing to the site, the amount of linking root domains (the actual number of other domains that link to your site, as opposed to the total number of linking pages) and of course the Authority of these linking sites. Social media links are also very important as these indicate authority, trust and engagement.
The most important thing you can do to build DA is to create massively useful content that solves people’s problems. If you can deliver unique and original insight into how these problems can be solved, the content will have a good chance of attracting links from other sites and get shared on social media.
Blogging is more than just having a blog
Just having a boring old blog where you post the odd article about your product's wonderful new features won't increase your DA or get you higher Google rankings. Your blog needs to offer information of real value, and offer unique insight and ways to solve your visitors' challenges.
There are 3 simple steps to developing a blog strategy:
- Identify a list of topics that will interest your target audience.
- Write the blog posts and publish on your website (preferrably using WordPress).
- Promote and try to get others to link back to your posts and share on social media.
Easy peasy 🙂
Over the coming weeks, I'll discuss each of these steps in more detail to give you a full overview of what you need to do in order to plan and execute an effective blogging strategy.
How to identify a list of topics that will interest your target audience
Let's use a real-life example. Say if you run an ecommerce website selling fitness and exercise equipment. You're going to have a lot of competition, from both big brands and smaller sites that have been around for a while. The easiest thing would be to churn out, run-of-the-mill content that you feel has mass appeal. You know the stuff, “Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, “15 minutes to great abs”, and so on!
If I was tasked with the job of coming up with some blog post ideas for a fitness & exercise site, this is what I would do first:
- Identify segments within the target audience that will have distinct content needs (e.g. complete beginners, clinically obese, advanced athletes, pregnant women etc.)
- Research the types of questions being asked online by the various personas (check out forums, quora.com etc.)
- Identify popular content in the fitness/exercise niche that has already attracted lots of social media shares and backlinks (Buzzsumo is an excellent tool for researching popular content)
Armed with this knowledge, I would draw up a list of ten or so blog posts for each target persona. Then I would spend some time working out how to offer a unique perspective on the various topics identified to produce something engaging, informative and shareworthy. Remember, you're not only trying to write content, you want to create something which will establish you as an authority on the subject and is also powerful enough to encourage others to want to share with their own audiences via their own blogs or through social media.
When I get a chance, I'll talk more about the physical act of writing your blog articles and include tips on how to plan and structure your posts to engage and maintain your reader's interest.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about specific SEO challenges you're facing, feel free to drop me a line and I'll try to help out as much as I can.
SEO obsessed, rugby-loving Welshman living in Ireland since 2002. Freelance SEO and Wordpress web design consultant based in Killaloe, Co Clare.
G Gaurav says
Really awesome information you have shared here..
Great post – bang on.
Sarah Hipwell says
Hi William, Very informative article and cuts through the chase. Please keep posting. Kind regards, Sarah
Francis O Dwyer says
Good afternoon, I have been in the office supplies business for the past 9 years and recently launched a new online shop and i try and do blogs but i often struggle to come up with content and wonder what people want to read. I would love if people would link back to me after reading one of my blogs but i must admit that i am struggling at present. I would appreciate any advise you would give me.
William Jones says
Hi Francis. Thanks for your comment. It can be hard to think of topics for, what some would consider, relatively mundane and uninteresting topics or industries. So you need to think laterally. Instead of talking about your products, you could feature some of your more ‘interesting’ customers, such as startups or ones with an engaging background story to tell. You could also conduct a study where you ask your customers what their most mundane tasks are and get some ideas how they could be made more exciting. You could also try writing some pieces on alternative uses for office stationery. Remember, the aim is to write something which will engage readers and encourage social sharing. If you do some collaborative articles featuring your customers, it’s likely that they will also share on their networks, therefore exposing your site to a wider audience. I’ve always liked the Viking Direct blog, some well-planned and constructed articles there (thanks to a healthy digital marketing budget!)
john reidy says
i totally agree with you.
most seo companies cant even rank their own sites,
blogging is very good,
Very good read,!
Karl McDonnell says
Probably one of the best sites i have been on for SEO help. Will pass on any work if I can as basic SEO is where we are at the moment. Thanks for the advice. Really helpful.
William Jones says
Thanks for stopping by Karl, and thanks for the generous comment.
Love the raw honesty, and straight talk, a refreshing change from the foreign SEO companies that e-mail me daily.
seo chicago il says
Very informative article and cuts through the chase. Please keep posting. Kind regards, Sarah