SEO is something that a lot of people talk about, and something that, even now, a decade after I started blogging, makes a huge difference. Knowing even just a tiny bit about SEO can help grow your traffic. Here’s a little story about how our traffic grew by 40% in one month through SEO, and how you can use it to your benefit for future blog posts.
First, a bit of background. What is SEO, and why should you care? (Other than the fact that it is why our traffic grew by 40%, that is!)
SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimization, which doesn’t help describe it, but essentially, it’s how you can position your writing to come up when someone is searching for the thing you’re writing about.
This is where a lot of our clients get stuck. It’s the “what do I write about?” stage.
And it’s always a funny question to me, since I am always thinking about content. What do you write about? Indeed, what do you do?
We offer one-off content strategy sessions if you want to get into this with us, but essentially, we take a look at what you do, who your competitors are, and how you stand out.
So think about it this way… what are the things someone would type into Google, or say to Siri, or whatever, that would land them on your page?
What do you want that answer to be?
Sidenote: The reason I always recommend to people to double or even triple down on content is because the answer to the question above is almost always more than one search query. Which makes most people agonize over every single word on their home page.
But to me, it represents a huge opportunity. Because while you only get one shot at getting someone’s attention on your home page, you can answer absolutely all the questions you want to answer, 1600 words at a time, on your blog.
So, okay, that’s one reason why you should care. Here are a few more.
People who land on your site from a search engine are those who have search intent.
According to this article from AHREFS, people use search engines for four main purposes:
- Finding out more information. When you tell someone to Google it, they’re searching for information on it. Think: “is 2021 a leap year?”
- Navigation. They want to go to a website, but they’re too lazy to type the dot com part out, and they know the search engine has their back. Think: “gmail”
- Buying something. They know what they want, and they’re looking for the quickest way to check out. Think: “buy Rhodia unlined notebooks”
- Figuring out the best something to buy. These people are going to buy eventually, but right now they want a list, or a comparison, or a review of something they’re considering buying. Think: “best laptops for creatives”
This helps inform your content strategy.
Make sure to create content that helps people make a decision. Most of the content we help people create falls into the information category or the commercial investigation category.
And yes, you should feel free to write posts comparing your offer against the competition’s.
Search traffic lasts a lot longer than any other kind of traffic.
If you’re creating content solely on social media, you’re on an endless content treadmill that will never be satisfied.
But if you start with your site, and you structure your content in a way that signals to the search engines (who am I kidding, to Google) that you have something valuable to say, you’ll create something that will continue to drive business for you well into the future.
Okay, enough preamble. Let’s get into the numbers.
Traffic grew by 40% over last month
In a period of quiet right before Christmas, I opened Search Console, and was really surprised at what I found:
Don’t focus on the number of page views. Focus on the percentage increase.
40% increase in one month. That’s astonishing.
I’d like to note, too, that we see these kinds of numbers when we implement a content marketing strategy for clients who have never had any content on their site before, but that wasn’t the case for our content.
We’ve been publishing content 2-3 times per week for the last year.
But we recently switched from our former method of embedded videos plus a transcript to this longer form, more essay-forward style, since we’re emphasizing the MINDSTORMS newsletter starting in 2022 and ending… never.
So I dug a little deeper.
Organic search is up 36%, which is almost the same amount as the full increase.
There are two takeaways to consider:
- Focusing more on social media wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, since on closer inspection, that’s almost all Twitter.
- We’re doing something right when it comes to SEO, because it’s the primary reason our traffic grew by 40%.
Here are a couple things we’re doing when it comes to content that we haven’t in the past.
We’re paying attention to the search engines
In the past, we’ve simply done our content marketing more or less by the seat of our pants. This is partly because we know what to do, and partly because we’re like everyone else who has a particular expertise: we’re much better at systemizing our approach when it comes to our clients, and not all that great when we do it for ourselves.
This is entirely my fault, too. Emma is the systematic one, but since, for now, I’m largely responsible for all the content, and I haven’t (yet) missed a deadline, she’s not pushing me too hard.
But now that we’re hyper focusing on creating a hub of information for digital entrepreneurs who want to grow and scale their service-based businesses without somehow manufacturing hours out of thin air, we’re more dialed in on what we’re going to be talking about and writing about week after week.
Which means we’re using the search engine tools (AHREFS, analytics, search console) to help us come up with content.
Now, when I go into those tools, I’m either looking for information on a particular keyword or phrase I’d like to earn attention from the search engines for, or I’m learning about which pieces of content are already getting attention, and seeing if there’s an opportunity to write about something there.
That’s where the post about Emma’s Copy Blocks System came from. I found out that the sales page for it was getting some attention from Google, and thought it would be a good idea to write a post about it.
We’re using our favorite SEO plugin to the best of our ability
If you already have — and are using — an SEO plugin on your WordPress website, it’s probably not worth installing a new one.
But if you don’t have one, or have never once used the one you did install, I’m really happy with Rank Math. It does what that others do and gives you a score, but it does more than that. It helps you figure out how to edit your snippet (which is something that’s really easy to forget) and gives great suggestions on how to get a higher score, which helps my type-A personality.
It reminds you of SEO best practices, like:
- Using your keyword in headers
- Adding your keyword as alt text in one or more of your uploaded images
- Shortening your URL to include the keyword but not the entire title
And gets into other good practice things like:
- Telling you that the best titles have a negative word or a number in them
- Using short paragraphs
- Adding images to break up text
I wouldn’t go as far as saying the SEO plugin is the reason our traffic grew by 40%, but the way the plugin works always forces me to make a few tweaks to every post before I send it to Emma for editing and publishing.
We use a checklist for every post
Every post we write (and every video we run through our repurposing process) goes through a checklist.
Here’s our checklist:
- Word count: 1200-2000
- Keyword in title
- Keyword in permalink
- Keyword in H2
- Keyword in H3
- Keyword in alt text on 1-2 images
- Internal link
- External link
- 5-6 headers (H2s, H3s)
- Call-to-action at the end
This helps us get a high score in Rank Math (and contributes to how our traffic grew by 40%), but it also helps systemize the writing process. Anything to beat writer’s block, you know what I mean?
The most surprising thing about how our traffic grew by 40% in one month is that it aligns with intentionality
I have a confession to make: most of the content on this site that was published before November 2021 is not intentional content.
By that I mean, yes, I’m happy to put my name and face behind it, and I stand behind everything that has been published, but it was more of an attempt to show just how much content we could produce in a short amount of time than it was to create content that resonated with readers and search engines.
But it’s worth remembering that the things we pay the most attention to are the things that benefit from our care and attention.
If you want to put something on autopilot simply because it’s not a priority right now, consider this your permission slip to do so.
But do not expect outsized results from something you put on autopilot.
If you want outsized results, focus on the thing you want to grow.
Our traffic grew by 40% because we’re focusing on publishing really great content, which takes time.
And it will.
What would your business look like if your traffic grew by 40% in just one month?
One final note
If you want more ideas on how to grow your business, how to add revenue streams without adding stress to your life, how to grow your email list…
… you should join the premium version of this newsletter.
What’s in the premium MINDSTORMS newsletter?
The vault will grow with time, and it’ll contain playbooks on very specific ways to grow your business.
January’s playbook is all about how to turn your digital product (or even your outline of an idea for a digital product) into 2-5X more cash by adding accountability and a group aspect.
Join here: amplifiednow.com/join