How To Start An Online Business

If you’re thinking of starting an online business, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s no need to start from scratch. The internet has been around for over two decades now and so it’s possible to build up a substantial income online without having to invest in any new equipment or software.

The most important thing when it comes to building an online business is to focus on your niche market. Your niche market will be the group of people who will buy your products or services. If you sell dog food then you can only make money if there are people who own dogs. If you have a website selling dog food then you will need to target this audience.

You will also need to consider how you plan to promote your business. There are many different methods that you can use to drive traffic to your site. These include SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click) advertising, article marketing, social media and blogging. It’s important to choose one method and stick with it. You should avoid trying to do too much at once as this can lead to confusion and wasted time.

There are several different ways to generate revenue online. One of these is by using affiliate marketing. This involves you selling other people’s products. The beauty of this is that you don’t need to create any products yourself. All you need to do is get people to visit your website and then direct them to the merchant’s website. Once they purchase something from the merchant, you will receive a commission.

When it comes to generating income, it’s important to understand the difference between passive and active income. Passive income is generated by a website that generates an ongoing stream of income. For example, if you sell a product that costs $50 then you will receive a 50% commission. However, if you sell a product which costs $500 then you will only receive a 50% commission on the first sale. After this point, you won’t earn any further commissions.

Active income is generated by an offline business. An example of this would be a restaurant where you pay rent and employ staff. Once again, the more expensive the item that you sell, the less you will earn.

If you want to generate a significant income, you will need to focus on your niche market and find a way to promote your business. Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate income but you will need to make sure that you choose a reputable company to work with.

Internet Marketing – 3 Key Points To Make Money Online

I know that when I first started out online, I was so excited about everything that I was learning and doing. I was learning all sorts of things and I was doing them all at once. The problem with that approach is that I ended up not making any money online.

In this article we are going to discuss some of the key points in Internet marketing that you need to keep in mind if you want to make money online.

1. You have to build your list. If you do not build a list, you will never make any money online. It’s as simple as that. The reason for this is because most people will come online and try to sell them something and they won’t buy it. They will leave without buying anything and then you will be left with no one on your list.

2. You have to get traffic to your website. There are many ways to get traffic to your website but the easiest way is to get it from other websites. This is called affiliate marketing. There are many companies that offer their affiliates a certain amount of traffic every month for free. All you have to do is join an affiliate program and start promoting the products and services that they offer. You can also promote other peoples products and services and get paid for that as well.

3. You have to build trust with your readers. This is very important if you want to make money with your online business. People will only spend money on products that they trust. So you need to build trust by giving them good quality information that they can use. Also, you should always provide value to your readers. Don’t just try to sell them something. Tell them what you think they want to know. Then tell them how you can help them. That’s what you should do if you want to make money.

How to Make Money Online – Start Making Money Today!

I’ve been thinking about writing this article for some time now, but I was always too lazy to do it. The reason why I was too lazy to write it is because I didn’t have any real ideas on how to go about doing it.

But now that I’m thinking about it, I think I can come up with a few ideas.

First of all, you need to be able to get people to visit your website. This means that you need to have an interesting and relevant website that people will want to visit. You also need to know how to market your website so that people will visit it.

There are many ways to market your website. You can place ads in newspapers and magazines. You can send out letters to your list of customers and prospects. You can create a press release or news release. You can write articles and submit them to article directories. You can use pay per click advertising. You can use search engine optimization. There are many different ways to market your website.

Once you have a website, you need to build a list of people who might be interested in what you have to say. This is called your list of subscribers or list of readers. Once you have a list, you can email them regularly with useful information that they will find valuable.

You can also use your list as a way to promote affiliate products. If you have a good product that is related to your website, you can offer it to your list for free. They will then tell other people about it, and you will make money by having people visit your site and buy the product.

Now that you know how to make money online, you just need to start doing it. I suggest that you start small, and build your business slowly. Make sure that you are building something that people will want to visit.

How SEO is Different Around the World, According to HubSpot Content Strategists

In 2020, brands are increasingly growing global awareness with international marketing strategies. And, one major way they’ve driven traffic from different regions to their site is through international SEO.

But, like any marketing campaign, SEO is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, every country is diverse, uses the internet a little differently, and might have different sets of regulations. Not to mention, audiences in one country might have vastly different interests, cultural backgrounds, and values than audiences in another region.

As a marketer, your biggest goal should be to know your audience. And, according to HubSpot SEO experts, this is no different when it comes to building an SEO strategy for your international or multi-language website.

“When you run a multi-language version of your website and you’re serious about delivering best-in-class, high-quality content to audiences around the globe, you should invest in an international SEO strategy that will rely strongly on a proper technical structure and global content strategy that considers local nuances,” advises Karolina Bujalska-Exner, HubSpot’s international SEO manager.

But how do you create a winning international SEO strategy? First, it’s important to identify how SEO, search engine algorithms, and search platforms might vary from region to region.

To help those interested in gaining global online awareness, I spoke with HubSpot’s SEO experts to learn how optimization strategies differ around the world. Here are four things to know.

→ Download Now: SEO Starter Pack [Free Kit]

4 Ways SEO Varies Around the World

1. Your search competition might vary in different geographies

When you’ve only marketed your brand in one country, it will take time to get a social media following, email subscribers, traffic, and other metrics from a new international audience. This is because people around the world are just getting familiar with your brand for the first time.

Although SEO focuses on search, it will similarly take time to grow awareness on another country’s Google or Bing domain.

“Every region of the world has its own Google ccTLD (for example, Google.com, Google.es, Google.fr, Google.jp, etc). Each Google domain follows similar — if not identical — algorithms, but each one is ultimately its own market with its own economy of publishers,” Becker explains.

“A different Google site doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be starting with zero domain authority if you were to expand your content to other regions,” Becker adds. “But it does mean your brand might not have the same awareness it has on Google.com. Therefore, traffic growth may be a bit of an uphill battle as you establish an audience.”

Even though you might be ranking on the U.S. version of Google, keep in mind that audiences on Google.fr in French territories might not know you exist just yet. As you create more content for these markets, they’ll get more chances to click on your content and boost your website’s authority. However, when you start with no SEO or content strategies catered to this market, it will take time to get traffic needed to rank quickly.

2. A region’s language and local nuances can impact your rankings in that territory.

If you’ve done any research on SEO, you probably know that keyword research is a vital way to create and optimize content so it ranks on Google. This is no different in other regions where English or your website’s language might not be as smoothly translated.

“When serving content in different languages, translations or localisations sometimes might not be enough to win rankings or get valuable traffic from another locale,” says Bujalska-Exner.

“Why? Even when the most amazing content is optimized for one region, it might not have a similar meaning or wording when translated to another regional language.”

To mitigate translation issues, Bujalska-Exner says, “It’s important to do your keyword research in the target language so you can find the best regional opportunities for main and long-tail keywords.”

“The same goes for search intent. One term might have completely different intent in another country,” Bujalska-Exner adds. “The way SERPs look varies across the globe. Some countries have more specific search features present than others. This should always be taken into account when deciding how to structure your content.”

As you do international keyword research, Bujalska-Exner advises, “Remember that some SEO tools offer more accurate results for search volumes in specific languages or regions than others. Test several tools before implementing one that provides the most accurate information for your target language.”

Aside from doing research, another helpful way to optimize content for one region is by writing it in that locale’s language from the start.

When you have a regional creator write your content in their language, the writer can better ensure that content is “optimized, helpful, and engaging” to the regional audiences. They can also use their knowledge of the area and audience to include “local examples and ideas,” Bujalska-Exner says.

“There are many ways to set your website for an international audience. The most common are separate ccTlds, subdomains, or language folders.” Bujalska-Exner explains. “Each of those has advantages and disadvantages. You should choose your strategy based on what you want to achieve. You have to think of your SEO needs, the resources you have or might invest in, and choose the best option for you.”

For a technical comparison of ccTlds and international subdomain options, check out this guide.

3. The top search engines in some regions might not be Google or Bing.

While search engines behave similarly internationally, it’s important to know that some of the major sites like Google, Bing, or Yahoo are rarely used or banned in other countries. When marketing web content in these areas, you might need to consider an alternative other than optimizing your site for major search platforms.

“One very clear difference that does exist globally is a search engine’s share of voice in various countries,” Becker explains. “Most search engines you’ve heard of — Bing, Yahoo, Google — have similar algorithms and ranking factors. Therefore SEO for one engine will benefit you across multiple engines. However. some national markets operate on a completely different set of rules “

As our SEO experts have revealed, you don’t have to dramatically change your SEO process, or learn about a whole new list of algorithms to rank on Google in different countries.

But, while the foundation of your keyword research and SEO strategy could be similar from country to country, you’ll still need to identify how search behaviors vary internationally, which languages will be key to your SEO, and local topics that certain international markets might be more heavily searching.

“When discussing SEO, we usually think about optimizing for Google. But, there are many countries in the world where Google’s market share is actually very low,” Bujalska-Exner explains. “Instead there are other regional alternatives that are used as primary engines. For example Yandex is used in Russia and Baidu is primarily used in China.”

Although search engines like Baidu, shown below might look similar to Google, they don’t necessarily act the same, according to our experts.

Baidu, a Chinese search engine.

Becker, who also points out China as one region with its own search engine, adds, “China is unique in that Google does not have a presence in this country at all. The primary source of information in China is from Baidu, which does not resemble the ranking factors that marketers are familiar with from Google.”

4. SEO isn’t that different around the globe — but you still need a strategy for each country.

Because platforms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are still present around the world, optimizing your website for them won’t be that different from country to country. According to Braden Becker, a senior SEO strategist, there are a number of strategies that will work for these search engines in many different countries.

“SEO isn’t really something that differs globally, but rather extends globally,” says Backer. “In the case of HubSpot, we have an SEO strategy that is both native to each region, but also follows a number of universal SEO techniques that marketers need to know in order to do international SEO successfully.”

Yes. If you want to develop audiences in international territories, you’ll need to keep in mind that people in other regions will be searching for different phrases in different languages. This instantly will make keyword research and SEO strategies different in each area.

However, the ranking algorithms that major search platforms, like Google, use in one country aren’t much different in another. So, if you have SEO specialists in different locations, they might use a similar keyword research and SEO optimization strategy. However, they’ll likely discover different lists of keywords and different blog posts to optimize based on what people in their area are looking for.

Navigating International Marketing

Like any other international or audience growth marketing strategy, you’ll ultimately need to know your target audience, give them content that they enjoy, and encourage them to visit your website more often. As you gain traffic to your international website, you’ll gain brand awareness as well as ranking authority from these markets.

For more international marketing tips, check out this post on social media platforms that weren’t founded in the U.S., as well as this list of brilliant international marketing examples.

Want to dive deeper into international SEO? Here’s a technical guide on how to optimize your site for global search engines. Or, worried you’ll make a major global SEO mistake? Read this post to discover how you could sabotage global SEO.

marketing

Originally published Jul 7, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 07 2020

Topics:

SEO

Predictive SEO: How HubSpot Saves Traffic We Haven’t Lost Yet

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

Have you ever tried to bring your clean laundry upstairs by hand, and things keep falling out of the giant blob of clothing you’re carrying? This is a lot like trying to grow organic website traffic.

Your content calendar is loaded with fresh ideas, but with every web page published, an older page drops in search engine ranking.

Getting SEO traffic is hard, but keeping SEO traffic is a whole other ball game. Content tends to “decay” over time due to new content created by competitors, constantly shifting search engine algorithms, or a myriad of other reasons.

You’re struggling to move the whole site forward, but things keep leaking traffic where you’re not paying attention.

Recently, the two of us (Alex Birkett and Braden Becker 👋) developed a way to find this traffic loss automatically, at scale, and before it even happens.

Free Guide: How to Run a Technical SEO Audit

The Problem With Traffic Growth

At HubSpot, we grow our organic traffic by making two trips up from the laundry room instead of one.

The first trip is with new content, targeting new keywords we don’t rank for yet.

The second trip is with updated content, dedicating a portion of our editorial calendar to finding which content is losing the most traffic — and leads — and reinforcing it with new content and SEO-minded maneuvers that better serve certain keywords. It’s a concept we (and many marketers) have come to call “historical optimization.”

But, there’s a problem with this growth strategy.

As our website’s traffic grows, tracking every single page can be an unruly process. Selecting the right pages to update is even tougher.

Last year, we wondered if there was a way to find blog posts whose organic traffic is merely “at risk” of declining, to diversify our update choices and perhaps make traffic more stable as our blog gets bigger.

Restoring Traffic vs. Protecting Traffic

Before we talk about the absurdity of trying to restore traffic we haven’t lost yet, let’s look at the benefits.

When viewing the performance of one page, declining traffic is easy to spot. For most growth-minded marketers, the downward-pointing traffic trendline is hard to ignore, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing that trend recover.

But all traffic recovery comes at a cost: Because you can’t know where you’re losing traffic until you’ve lost it, the time between the traffic’s decline, and its recovery, is a sacrifice of leads, demos, free users, subscribers, or some similar metric of growth that comes from your most interested visitors.

You can see that visualized in the organic trend graph below, for an individual blog post. Even with traffic saved, you’ve missed out on opportunities to support your sales efforts downstream.

predictive seo leads and portals sacrificed views graph

If you had a way to find and protect (or even increase) the page’s traffic before it needs to be restored, you wouldn’t have to make the sacrifice shown in the image above. The question is: how do we do that?

How to Predict Falling Traffic

To our delight, we didn’t need a crystal ball to predict traffic attrition. What we did need, however, was SEO data that suggests we could see traffic go bye-bye for particular blog posts if something were to continue. (We also needed to write a script that could extract this data for the whole website — more on that in a minute.)

High keyword rankings are what generate organic traffic for a website. Not only that, but the lion’s share of traffic goes to websites fortunate enough to rank on the first page. That traffic reward is all the greater for keywords that receive a particularly high number of searches per month.

If a blog post were to slip off Google’s first page, for that high-volume keyword, it’s toast.

Keeping in mind the relationship between keywords, keyword search volume, ranking position, and organic traffic, we knew this was where we’d see the prelude to a traffic loss.

And luckily, the SEO tools at our disposal can show us that ranking slippage over time:

predictive seo keywords ranking table

The image above shows a table of keywords for which one single blog post is ranking.

For one of those keywords, this blog post ranks in position 14 (page 1 of Google consists of positions 1-10). The red boxes show that ranking position, as well as the heavy volume of 40,000 monthly searches for this keyword.

Even sadder than this article’s position-14 ranking is how it got there.

As you can see in the teal trendline above, this blog post was once a high-ranking result, but consistently dropped over the next few weeks. The post’s traffic corroborated what we saw — a noticeable dip in organic page views shortly after this post dropped off of page 1 for this keyword.

You can see where this is going … we wanted to detect these ranking drops when they’re on the verge of leaving page 1, and in doing so, restore traffic we were “at risk” of losing. And we wanted to do this automatically, for dozens of blog posts at a time.

The “At Risk” Traffic Tool

The way the At Risk Tool works is actually somewhat simple. We thought of it in three parts:

  1. Where do we get our input data?
  2. How do we clean it?
  3. What are the outputs of that data that allow us to make better decisions when optimizing content?

First, where do we get the data?

1. Keyword Data from SEMRush

What we wanted was keyword research data on a property level. So we want to see all of the keywords that hubspot.com ranks for, particularly blog.hubspot.com, and all associated data that corresponds to those keywords.

Some fields that are valuable to us are our current search engine ranking, our past search engine ranking, the monthly search volume of that keyword, and, potentially, the value (estimated with keyword difficulty, or CPC) of that keyword.

To get this data, we used the SEMrush API (specifically, we use their “Domain Organic Search Keywords” report):

predictive seo hubspot domain organic search keywords report semrush

Using R, a popular programming language for statisticians and analytics as well as marketers (specifically, we use the ‘httr’ library to work with APIs), we then pulled the top 10,000 keywords that drive traffic to blog.hubspot.com (as well as our Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese properties). We currently do this once per quarter.

This is a lot of raw data, which is useless by itself. So we have to clean the data and warp it into a format that is useful for us.

Next, how do we actually clean the data and build formulas to give us some answers as to what content to update?

2. Cleaning the Data and Building the Formulas

We do most of the data cleaning in our R script as well. So before our data ever hits another data storage source (whether that be Sheets or a database data table), our data is, for the most part, cleaned and formatted how we want it to.

We do this with a few short lines of code:

predictive seo hubspot code clean data

What we’re doing in the code above, after pulling 10,000 rows of keyword data, is parsing it from the API so it’s readable and then building it into a data table. We then subtract the current ranking from the past ranking to get the difference in ranking (so if we used to rank in position 4, and we now rank 9, the difference in ranking is -5).

We further filtered so we only surface those with a difference in ranking of negative value (so only keywords that we’ve lost rankings for, not those that we gained or that remained the same).

We then send this cleaned and filtered data table to Google Sheets where we apply tons of custom formulas and conditional formatting.

Finally, we needed to know: what are the outputs and how do we actually make decisions when optimizing content?

3. At Risk Content Tool Outputs: How We Make Decisions

Given the input columns (keyword, current position, historical position, the difference in position, and the monthly search volume), and the formulas above, we compute a categorical variable for an output.

A URL/row can be one of the following:

  • “AT RISK”
  • “VOLATILE”
  • Blank (no value)
predictive seo at risk content table hubspot

Blank outputs, or those rows with no value, mean that we can essentially ignore those URLs for now. They haven’t lost a significant amount of ranking, or they were already on page 2 of Google.

“Volatile” means the page is dropping in rank, but isn’t an old-enough blog post to warrant any action yet. New web pages jump around in rankings all the time as they get older. At a certain point, they generate enough “topic authority” to stay put for a while, generally speaking. For content supporting a product launch, or an otherwise critical marketing campaign, we might give these posts some TLC as they’re still maturing, so it is worth flagging them.

“At Risk” is mainly what we’re after — blog posts that were published more than six months ago, dropped in ranking, and are now ranking between positions 8 and 10 for a high-volume keyword. We see this as the “red zone” for failing content, where it’s fewer than 3 positions away from dropping from page 1 to page 2 of Google.

The spreadsheet formula for these three tags is below — basically a compound IF statement to find page-1 rankings, a negative ranking difference, and the publish date’s distance from the current day.

predictive seo hubspot at risk content if statement

What We Learned

In short, it works! The tool described above has been a regular, if not frequent addition to our workflow. However, not all predictive updates save traffic right on time. In the example below, we saw a blog post fall off of page 1 after an update was made, then later return to a higher position.

predictive seo what we learned blog post graph

And that’s okay.

We don’t have control over when, and how often, Google decides to recrawl a page and re-rank it.

Of course, you can re-submit the URL to Google and ask them to recrawl (for critical or time-sensitive content, it may be worth this extra step). But the objective is to minimize the amount of time this content underperforms, and stop the bleeding — even if that means leaving the quickness of recovery to chance.

Although you’ll never truly know how many page views, leads, signups, or subscriptions you stand to lose on each page, the precautions you take now will save time you’d otherwise spend trying to pinpoint why your website’s total traffic took a dive last week.

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this audit.  

Originally published Jun 11, 2020 7:30:00 AM, updated June 11 2020

Topics:

SEO

How to Create an SEO Strategy for 2020 [Template Included]

Here’s a cliche among digital marketers: Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t what it used to be.

Here’s a true statement you don’t hear as often: Your SEO strategy for 2019 shouldn’t focus on keywords.

These days, most businesses understand the basic concepts of SEO and why it’s important.

Download Now: Free SEO Starter Pack

However, when it comes to developing and executing a sound SEO strategy for your business, just creating content for the keywords your customers are searching for is both arduous and, well, wrong.

What is an SEO?

Search engine optimizers (SEOs) are people who optimize websites to help them show up higher on search engines and gain more “organic traffic.” In essence, an SEO is a highly specialized content strategist, and helps a business discover opportunities to answer questions people have about the industry via search engines.

Here are three types of SEO that an SEO strategist can focus on:

  • On-page SEO: This SEO focuses on the content that’s “on the page,” and how to optimize that content to help boost the website’s ranking for specific keywords.
  • Off-page SEO: This SEO focuses on the links that are directing to the website from elsewhere on the internet. The number of “backlinks,” and the publishers carrying those links, that link to your website help you build trust in the eyes of a search engine. This causes your website to rank higher as a result.
  • Technical SEO: This SEO focuses on a website’s architecture, examining the backend of that website to see how each webpage is “technically” set up. Google cares as much about the code of a website as it does its content, making this speciality quite important to a website’s search engine ranking.

Bear in mind that not every business can optimize their website for search the same way, and therefore not every SEO will have the same optimization process. It’s an SEO’s job to examine his or her industry, find out what’s important to their audience, and develop an SEO strategy that puts the right content in front of that audience.

With that in mind, here are nine steps you can take to make sure all of your SEO bases are covered in 2019. Then, at the bottom of this blog post, you can grab your free planning template to master on-page SEO.

1. Make a list of topics.

Keywords are at the heart of SEO, but they’re actually not your first step to an organic growth play anymore. Your first step is to make a list of topics you’d like to cover from one month to the next.

To start, compile a list of about 10 short words and terms associated with your product or service. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to identify their search volume and come up with variations that make sense for your business.

You are associating these topics with popular short-tail keywords, as you can tell, but you’re not dedicating individual blog posts to these keywords. These keywords are simply too competitive to rank highly for on Google if you’re just starting to optimize your website for search. We’ll go over how to use these topics in just a minute.

google adwords keyword tool screenshot resized 600

Using search volume and competition as your measure, narrow down your list to 10-15 short-tail keywords that are important to you, and that people within your audience are searching for. Then rank this list in order of priority, based on its monthly search volume and its relevance to your business.

For example, if a swimming pool business is trying to rank for “fiberglass pools” — which is receiving 110,000 searches per month — this short-tail keyword can be the one that represents the overarching topic on which they want to create content. The business would then identify a series of long-tail keywords that relate to this short-tail keyword, have reasonable monthly search volume, and help to elaborate on the topic of fiberglass pools. We’ll talk more about these long-tails in the next step of this process.

Each of these keywords is called a “pillar,” and it serves as the primary support for a larger “cluster” of long-tail keywords, which is what brings us to our next Step …

2. Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics.

Here’s where you’ll start optimizing your pages for specific keywords. For each pillar you’ve identified, use your keyword tool to identify five to 10 long-tail keywords that dig deeper into the original topic keyword.

For example, we regularly create content on the topic of “SEO,” but it’s still very difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic on this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword — and potentially the same search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you’re reading right now), and other subtopics within SEO.

This allows a business to attract people who have varying interests in and concerns about owning their product — and ultimately create more entry points for people who are interested in buying something.

Use subtopics to come up with blog post or webpage ideas that explain a specific concept within each larger topic you identified in Step 1. Plug these subtopics into your keyword research tool to identify long-tail keywords on which to base each blog post.

Together, these subtopics create a cluster. So, if you have 10 pillar topics, they should each be prepared to support one cluster of five to 10 subtopics. This SEO model is called a “topic cluster,” and modern search engine algorithms depend on them to connect users with the information they’re looking for.

Here’s a short video on this concept:

[embedded content]

Think of it this way: The more specific your content, the more specific the needs of your audience are — and the more likely you’ll convert this traffic into leads. This is how Google finds value in the websites it crawls; the pages that dig into the interworkings of a general topic are seen as the best answer to a person’s query, and will rank higher.

3. Build pages for each topic.

When it comes to websites and ranking in search engines, trying to get one page to rank for a handful of keywords can be next to impossible. But here’s where the rubber meets the road:

Take the 10 pillar topics you came up with in Step 1 and create a web page for each one that outlines the topic at a high level — using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in Step 2. A pillar page on SEO, for example, can describe SEO in brief sections that introduce keyword research, image optimization, SEO strategy, and other subtopics as they are identified. Think of each pillar page as a table of contents, where you’re briefing your readers on subtopics you’ll elaborate on in blog posts.

Use your keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you should create. Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with how many different products, offerings, and locations your business has. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.

Each web page needs to include relevant content for your prospects and customers and should include pictures and links to pages on your site to enhance the user experience. We’ll talk about those links in Step 4.

4. Set up a blog.

Blogging can be an incredible way to rank for keywords and engage your website’s users. After all, every blog post is a new web page that gives you another chance to rank in search engines. If your business does not already have a blog, set one up. This is where you’ll elaborate on each subtopic and actually start showing up on Google.

As you write each blog post and fill up your clusters, you should do three things:

  1. First, don’t include your long-tail keyword more than three or four times throughout the page. Google doesn’t consider exact keyword matches as often as it used to. In fact, too many instances of your keyword can be a red flag to search engines that you’re “keyword stuffing.” This can penalize your website and drop your rank.
  2. Second, link out to the pillar page you created on this topic. You can do this in the form of tags in your content management system (CMS), or as basic anchor text in the body of the article.
  3. Once you publish each blog post, link into it from the pillar page that supports this subtopic. Find the point in your pillar page that introduces this blog’s subtopic, and link it here.

By connecting both the pillar and the cluster in this way, you’re telling Google there’s a relationship between the long-tail keyword and the overarching topic you’re trying to rank for.

5. Blog every week to develop page authority.

Not every blog post or web page you write needs to belong to a topic cluster. There’s also value in writing about tangential topics your customers care about in order to give your website authority in the eyes of Google. This will cue Google to pay extra attention your domain as you add content to your primary topics.

With that in mind, make a point to blog at least once a week. Remember, you are blogging primarily for your audience, not the search engines. Write about things your audience and/or prospects are interested in, make sure you’re including relevant keywords where appropriate, and your audience will slowly start to notice and click.

Keep in mind that each topic won’t be equal in importance, and as your clusters get off the ground, you’ll need to prioritize based on your company’s needs. So, create a list of all the different web pages you would like to create and rank them. Then, develop a schedule and devise a plan of attack to get those pages built.

Keep your list updated and prioritized by what web pages will help you to best achieve your business goals.

6. Create a link-building plan.

The topic cluster model is your way forward in SEO this year, but it’s not the only way to get your website content to rank higher once it’s been created.

Our first five steps were dedicated to on-page SEO tactics. Link-building is the primary objective of off-page SEO, and is also a huge factor in how search engines rank your web pages. What is link-building? Glad you asked.

Link-building is the process of attracting inbound links (also called “backlinks”) to your website from elsewhere on the web. As a general rule, the more page authority the origin website has, the bigger affect it will have on the rank of the web page to which it is linking.

Dedicate some time to brainstorm all the different ways you can attract inbound links to your website. Start small –- maybe share your links with other local businesses in exchange for links to their sites. Write a few blog posts and share them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Consider approaching other bloggers for guest blogging opportunities through which you can link back to your website.

Another great way to attract inbound links is to use your blog to post articles related to current events or news. That way, you have shot of getting linked to from an industry influencer or other bloggers in your industry.

7. Compress all media before putting it on your website.

This is a small but important step in the SEO process. As your blog or website grows, you’ll undoubtedly have more images, videos, and related media to host there. These visual assets can help retain your visitors’ attention, but it’s easy to forget these assets are still technically computer files — and computer files have file sizes.

As a general rule, the bigger the file size, the harder it is for an internet browser to render your website. And it just so happens that page speed is one of the most important ranking factors when search engines decide where to place your content in its index.

So, the smaller the file size, the faster your website will load, and the higher you can rank on Google as a result. But how do you shrink a file size once it’s on your computer?

If you’re looking to upload an image to a blog post, for example, examine the file for its file size first. If it’s anywhere in megabyte (MB) territory, even just 1 MB, it’s a good idea to use an image compression tool to reduce the file size before uploading it to your blog. Sites like TinyPNG make it easy to compress images in bulk, while Google’s very own Squoosh has been known to shrink image file sizes to microscopic levels.

Ultimately, keeping your files in the kilobytes (KB) can sufficiently protect your website’s page speed.

Be careful when compressing your images, and check the file’s actual size once you export it back to your computer. While some tools might not be true to the size it shows you, others can sacrifice some image quality when compressing the artwork.

8. Stay current on SEO news & practices.

Like the overall marketing landscape, the search engine space is ever-evolving. Staying on top of current trends and best practices is a difficult task, but there are multiple online resources that can make it easy for you to stay on top of SEO news and changes that may impact your website and your SEO strategy.

Here are a few resources to check out:

  1. SEOmoz
  2. SEOBook
  3. Search Engine Roundtable
  4. Search Engine Land
  5. Diggity Marketing
  6. This Blog!

9. Measure and track your content’s success.

SEO can take a lot of time and effort. What good is spending all this time and effort if you can’t see the fruits of your labor? There are many metrics you can track on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to keep your SEO plan on track and measure your success.

Because the metric you care about is organic traffic (traffic that comes from a given search engine), seek out a tool that allows you to track both your overall organic traffic number and how your pages are ranking under each long-tail keyword your pages are targeting. SEMrush is a great reporting tool for just this purpose.

Create a monthly dashboard using Excel, Google Sheets, or a web analytics package so you can monitor how much traffic comes to your website from organic search.

Also, tracking indexed pages, leads, ROI, inbound links, keywords, and your actual ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages) can help you recognize your success as well as identify areas of opportunity.

SEO Process

Once you create your monthly SEO plan, you should also build a process to continue to optimizing it to fit new intent and keywords. Here are a few steps you can take. 

1. Historically optimize your content. 

Devote some time each month to updating old blog posts with new and up to date information so it continues to rank in SERPs. You can also use this time to add any SEO optimization that wasn’t in the original post, such as missing alt text.

2. Look out for changing keywords and new search intent.

After a few months, track where your blog posts are ranking and which keywords they’re ranking for. This can help you adjust subheads or text to leverage that new keyword ranking.

3. Add more editorial value to your old content.

Sometimes, you’ll find that a post is completely out of date. In this scenario, you should go beyond the average SEO update and give it a full refresher. You can do this by updating out of date information or stats, adding new sections that add depth to the post, or adding quotes or original data that can make the post gain more referral traffic.

4. Note new content and updates aimed at SEO in a monthly content plan.

To keep up with your SEO strategy, it can be helpful to create and refine a monthly content strategy. Then put your content plan into a spreadsheet or document that your team can monitor and track easily.

Below is an example of a content monthly content planning process that takes the steps above into account. 

With a monthly SEO plan like the one above, plus a tracking document like a search insights report, you can build out and execute on an efficient SEO strategy. You can also identify and leverage low-hanging-fruit topics to discuss related to your industry.

To learn more about SEO, check out our Ultimate Guide to SEO

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2019 but was updated in March 2020 for consistency and freshness.

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Originally published Mar 13, 2020 4:15:00 PM, updated March 13 2020

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SEO

How to Use SEO Data to Make Better Marketing Decisions

As marketers, we know that search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary. It helps webpages rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). After all, 67% of all clicks go to the first five organic search results on Google.

So for traffic, SEO is a must.

But have you ever considered using SEO practices for, say, informing marketing decisions? Or creating networking opportunities?

Download Now: Free SEO Starter Pack

Only using SEO for traffic purposes is closing the door to different ways you can use the skills you already have to inform decisions in other areas. To get an idea of the different ways to use SEO, we’re going to explain the types of SEO data, and a short list of how SEO data can lead to better marketing decisions.

Types of SEO Data

  • Organic traffic — Organic traffic refers to the visitors that come to a website from the search engine results as opposed to paid ads. Organic traffic is important because it indicates whether or not your website has the answer to search queries that audiences are looking for.
  • Organic impressions — Impressions are when digital content appears on the screen of the user, and organic impressions are when that happens without a paid ad. Impressions don’t suggest the user took action, but does suggest how far your reach is.
  • Organic rankings — You might have noticed that Google ranks ads at the top of SERPs, and more rankings below. The rankings below those ads are organic, meaning they are what Google ranks your content based on how well it answers search queries.
  • Keyword monthly search volume — Keyword monthly search volume is representative of the number of searches a keyword has over the course of a month. It represents how much interest there is in a particular keyword. You can measure MSV by region, but also globally. For example, a keyword can have 100 MSV in the U.S., 900 MSV worldwide.
  • Number of backlinks — A backlink is the hyperlink on one webpage that links to another site. The number of backlinks your website has is important because it increases your chances of ranking highly on Google.
  • Number of referring domains — These are websites that do the backlinking. So, for example, if you were to backlink this post to your site, then your site would have one referring domain. If you backlinked another post from another website, then you would have two. Referring domains can go up by the number of websites, but not the number of times a website was backlinked.
  • Page speed (in milliseconds) — Page speed is determined by the amount of time it takes for a webpage to load. It’s determined by a multitude of different factors, such as file size and image compression. Page speed is important to SEO because a slow speed could cause a visitor to leave the site.

How SEO Data Can Help the Business

We’ve defined the types of SEO data that you can come across and use in different ways. In this section, we’re going to explain how the different components of SEO can positively impact business and marketing decisions.

1. Use search volume to guide product naming & branding.

Are you struggling to name your product in a way that will attract a large audience? Have your past few product launches not produced the results you were hoping for? Try using search volume to guide how you name and brand future products.

As I mentioned above, search volume refers to the number of times a search term is used by the public, and is usually presented in a per-month format. If you test the search volume of terms related to your product, you’ll be able to develop a name that reflects the types of words and phrases the public already uses to describe your service.

For instance, if you’re launching an online running apparel store, optimizing your product pages around the term “jogging shorts” won’t reach as big an audience as “running shorts,” because it’s likely that more search volume is going to the latter term.

You would want to name the product using language that has the most search volume. Following the search volume ensures that you’ll name the product in a way that aligns with how the public is referring to it.

2. Organizing your keyword strategy by interest level.

Every stage in the buyer’s journey is different, and because of that, search queries will differ based on which stage the customer is in.

Let’s look at an example of catering to the buyer’s journey using SEO.

The search query “what is inbound marketing” is most likely used by someone who is early into their journey, and still learning about the concept of inbound marketing. Alternatively, the query “inbound marketing software” suggests that person is already looking for a tool to solve their problem, and that they’re in a much later-stage of their purchase decision.

If you organize keywords by buyer’s journey stages, you’ll be able to develop a strategy that delivers the best experience to the customer. You can also analyze the traffic from these keywords to see how well your business is performing in the different buyer’s journey stages.

3. Use collected data to create a strategy that caters to the customer.

When you collect traffic data from your website, are you using it to see how you can improve the customer experience? SEO data can be used to assess how specific areas of your overall content strategy can be improved.

For instance, if you’ve noticed that you’re driving high traffic numbers on a content offer page — an ebook or webinar, for example — but aren’t noticing much conversion to the offer itself, that could be an indicator that your consideration-stage buyers aren’t finding their experience on your page useful.

Sort your content by topic, such as the buyer’s journey stage or content type, and analyze the traffic of pages related to those topics. This will give you an idea of how you can optimize your content so it performs well at any stage of the buyer’s journey.

4. Use organic rankings to find and understand competition.

You can use organic ranking to see how your product or content compares to your competitors. Not every business depends on a search engine to acquire customers, but even if you don’t, seeing how your competitors rank for search terms related to your industry can tell you what they’re doing that’s working. So, when you Google your product, where does your business fall on the SERP as opposed to others? If there are websites ranking above yours, try doing a quick crawl.

Think about how the website’s content might be valuable to customers, and how you can improve your content to convey messages in a way that resonates with them.

Note how competitors’ websites are different than yours. Are the webpages quick to load? Do the webpages rank for keywords that you don’t even show up for?

These are small technical changes that have a large impact on SEO. Loading time and keywords are two SEO factors that contribute to overall user experience and SERP rank. You may be able to pull inspiration that solves two problems at once by reviewing what high-ranking competitors are doing to see if they’re offering a type of information that you’re not.

5. Use backlink data to identify networking opportunities.

Maybe there’s a specific topic you feel like you could write an expert blog post about. Identify keywords about that topic. If the keyword you find matches the intent of your target audience but the content would compete with some of your other website content, don’t scrap the idea.

Instead, reach out to similar websites in the industry and inquire about a guest post or guest contributor space. That way, your work will still be seen by the right audience, and you can drive traffic to your website.

Use SEO metrics like backlinks to figure out which sites are already citing you in their own content, and then identify which domains are backlinking to them. This is a great way to hunt around for partners with whom you might want to guest post or even run a co-marketing campaign.

Keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Serpstat, Conductor, Moz, and more allow you to find backlink data on all of the pages on your website, making this prospecting process easy.

Contributing a guest post also begins a relationship with another business in the industry. This connection can be useful for future collaborations, and helps you build backlinks to your website from the sites you’re contributing to. Remember, backlinks are a critical ranking factor in the eyes of Google.

Similarly, if you find there’s a topic you think would be great on your blog but don’t have the resources/time to write it, you can reach out to an industry professional to contribute. That way, you won’t lose the chance for your website to rank highly on the SERP, you still build an industry relationship, and it gives your business more credibility. (Also, it’s not a bad cross-promotion idea to fit into your social media content strategy).

SEO can’t solve every job function, but it can lead to more informed marketing decisions. When you use data, like search volume, you can begin to make content that’s more personalized for the customer. Additionally, you can cater to the customer experience at every level, and make sure your campaigns stay relevant.

The next time you find yourself stuck with branding, content ideas, or understanding your customer, think about how SEO can help with your challenge.

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Is Negative SEO Hurting Your Traffic? What It Is & How to Avoid It

Back in the late ’90s (way back when), SEO was in its infancy.

It was almost like the Wild West — anything goes.

Since the rules were loose, both white hat and black hat SEO tactics began to develop.

While white hat tactics are an ethical way of improving your organic traffic and search rankings, black hat tactics go against guidelines set by search engines in an unethical way.

Continue reading “Is Negative SEO Hurting Your Traffic? What It Is & How to Avoid It”

Subdomain or Subdirectory? What They Are & How They Affect SEO

One of the most heated debates that I’ve been apart of is when I was arguing with my best friend that Taylor Swift is a good dancer.

The first thing you should know about me is that Taylor Swift is my favorite artist, so you’d have a hard time convincing me she’s bad at anything (because she isn’t).

That’s how I imagine the debate is between two search engine optimizers who debate whether subdomains or subdirectories are better for SEO.

Continue reading “Subdomain or Subdirectory? What They Are & How They Affect SEO”