Many businesses that are new to Internet marketing start with building out their site and then look at the type and volume of content they will deploy. This approach is exactly backwards. Many brand sites that we work with have thousands of pages that are, quite frankly, ineffective because of the way they built their site structure and their content focus. Had they done the keyword research first and determined their content focus and volume, they would have built out their sites very differently and the Internet marketing techniques used to grow their traffic would be much more effective.
The four website marketing techniques listed below will save you time, trouble and effort as you deploy your new website. By following these techniques, you will be able to determine the best keyword phrases to focus on, the type and focus of your content, the structure of your site as well as the phrases you should use for your anchor text in your initial link building efforts.
1. Keyword Analysis
One of the most effective things you can do as a start-up is to determine what keywords you will focus on for your business marketing. Many terms are extremely competitive and it will be very difficult for you to acquire a top 3 search engine listing. Other, long-tail terms will have significant volume in the aggregate but will be less competitive and give you the opportunity to rank and gain traffic.
Some things to think about as you do your keyword research:
Volume is certainly important. You want to target terms that have enough traffic to make writing content around that keyword worthwhile. You’ll find that the most competitive terms have the most volume. You want to rank for these terms but you’ll also want to look past this very competitive set of terms and find others that have a good search volume but a lower competitive index.
You can use Google AdWords to determine the competitive index for a particular keyword phrase. The index is based on a 1-100 ranking. If the keyword phrase is 100, it is the most difficult with a 1 being the easiest.
We build a keyword research document for our clients that looks at these phrases and organizes them to quickly see the opportunities. Using color in the spreadsheet gives you a quick visual of where to focus your efforts. Highlight your column in EXCEL and apply conditional formatting. It will give you a color scale as shown below. You would want to stay away from the terms in the red scale and lean more towards the green. In our example, “what to do in phoenix” offers a good monthly search volume with a low competitive index.
Once you’ve determined your initial keywords, it’s a simple matter to brainstorm ideas for content.
2. Developing Your Content
The following technique is one we use at Vertical Measures and it will help you generate lots of content ideas around your keywords. You should end up with a solid content calendar with many long tail terms focused on good traffic volume and lower competition.
You’ll need some time to do this and a way to capture your new list of ideas.
Content Suggestion Tools
Start with http://soovle.com. This site allows you to type in your keyword and see suggestions from some of the main search engines. It will give you ideas for long tail terms and you’ll find some terms you never even thought of. Enter your keyword slowly and look at the suggested terms as you are typing the phrase. Make a note of the suggestions. You’ll start seeing the keywords from your initial research as well as many others.
Another great resource is http://www.ubersuggest.org. This site takes your base term and extracts Google suggestions for it. You can download all the suggestions via a text file.
Armed with your keyword list, you can come up with ideas for content. Before you actually go to the next step, you may want to run all the additional ideas through Google AdWords to determine the competitive nature and traffic potential so you can focus on the terms that will give you the best leverage.
Your Content Should Solve Problems or Answer Questions
The above process is designed for you to come up with ideas to build your content around. Look for things that will answer your client’s questions, solve their problems or engage them on your site. What terms lend themselves to infographics, video, top 10 lists and how-to articles? Content with headlines that solve problems are often the most popular.
- Top 10 Ways To…
- 7 Secrets of…
- How to Fix Your… In 10 Minutes
With this in mind, visit a few other sites like:
- http://www.facebook.com/questions/ (depends on friends as you can only see friends’ questions)
Start by entering your phrase in the search section and look for the kinds of questions people are asking about your keywords and your business focus. You can get more results by using variations of your phrases. Make note of these questions and any others that come to mind while doing this research as they will make good ideas for content headlines.
By now, you should have lots of ideas that are vetted for traffic and their competitive nature. Put these in a spreadsheet and start adding title suggestions and content types. Some of the keywords will lend themselves to written content, others to video or infographics.
Take your list of ideas and add them to your content calendar.
3. Developing Your Site Structure
It gets a bit tougher here. Now with the type and volume of content you plan to deploy, you’ll need to determine the kind of site structure you’ll need. This is one of the most important things to get right as you develop your web presence. I can’t tell you how many clients we work with that have gotten this part very wrong. If your site is set up incorrectly, then it’s difficult to maximize the value of content, link building, social media and other Internet marketing techniques.
Start with determining the categories and the directories you’ll need. Sometimes, based on your content focus, it’s really easy. But with some clients that have a tremendous number of products or a wide variety of content it becomes more difficult. Set your directories and wire-frame the site. Getting a visual of the site often allows you to “see” things that don’t line up well or places where you can revise and simplify your site architecture. Sites like mockflow.com and gliffy.com can help you with this step. You can try Gliffy for free.
I’ve always been an advocate of “owning” your own publishing platform. That is, to be able to add content whenever you choose. We work with so many clients that tell us it takes weeks to add content. Don’t put yourself in this boat. Use a content management system that allows you to post content whenever you want and to add directories as well. WordPress is a great content management system as are Drupal and Joomla. Many small businesses and start ups have very limited budgets. I recommend these as all of them are free and have strong development communities around them which provide ancillary plug ins and other features that enhance the core content management systems. There are also numerous paid CMS systems.
4. Link Building
Your content is written; video is shot and edited; now it’s time to get links to your site. Start with manufacturers or vendors if you have an e-commerce site. If you are selling services, then go to any of the professionals you’ve used to get started and have them link to your site. These are great places to get your “first” links.
Go back to your initial keyword report and determine the long tail terms that have a lot of volume and low competition and start building links with those terms.
Most of us focus on off-page links but don’t forget the value of internal linking. Make it a point to show the search engines what you think is important on your site and what keywords you value the most by using your anchor text with them. Many sites use terms like, “click here” or “learn more” rather than using their keyword phrases. If your content is important enough to link to, then use a keyword in your anchor text.
Other ways to get links to your new site:
Write an article about your new products and services and post it on another site with a link back to your site.
Strong Content Builds Link Attraction
Write link-worthy content. That is, make your content compelling enough that other webmasters would naturally want to link to it. Free-guides, infographics and Top 10 lists work well here.
Write a press release about your new business or product offerings and use one of the many press release sites. We always end up with links when we do press releases for our clients. The minimum number is around 50 but most end up with well over 100 links from a single press release.
Your site will generate more traffic if you follow these four techniques prior to launch. What other things do you suggest prior to an initial website launch?
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