SEO is a touchy subject. Like any aspect of the tech world, there are supporters, detractors, and those who say “Bah, who needs it!” Here at Aspiration Marketing, we’re firmly in the former camp, in that we see SEO as a key tool for any content marketing endeavor. Without a grounding in the fundamentals, there is simply no way your content will gain traction and bring you the organic traffic and conversions you’re looking for.
Hubspot recently released some new benchmarks for all things digital marketing, here are our key takeaways:
- “Publish as much optimized content as possible.” (emphasis ours) This comes from the intro to their study and sums up how we feel about content posting frequency. In order to move up the SERPs, you need to be posting new, unique, relevant, and engaging content as often as your resources will allow. And all of that content needs to be optimized (read on for details)
- 70-98% bounce rate for blog posts. That one surprised us, we’ll be honest. What it should tell you is that bounce rate doesn’t tell the whole story and that it may be time this metric moved down the scale of importance.
- 1.5-5% CTR (click-through rate) for CTAs. If an industry leader like Hubspot says a CTA click rate of under 5% is fine, who are we to second-guess. Be honest, when was the last time you clicked through on a CTA in an email newsletter or blog post? Exactly. You likely still patronize those businesses, so don’t let a lower-than-expected number here dissuade you from continuing with a campaign.
General Best Practices for Increasing Organic Traffic
Start where we always suggest starting—research. Read your own blog as if you were a first time visitor. What stands out? Note what works to draw you in, and what would send you away to look elsewhere. Then do the same for your closest competitor’s blogs. Take copious notes on what works, what doesn’t, which posts seem too sales-y and which air on the too-friendly-not-enough-information side.
Research, research, research
Then move on to keyword research. Brainstorm with your marketing team, sales team, and customer service team. Who knows your customers better than these groups, right? Prioritize the resulting list of keywords so you can narrow down your focus for blog posts specifically. It can actually hurt your organic traffic if you overuse even the best and most appropriate keywords.
Now, it’s time to hit up your competitor’s sites and do some snooping. Read their blogs again, landing pages, and if you can sign up for a newsletter, read those too. Now combine this with some keyword searches to see who’s ranking higher. Note the keywords that seem to lean toward your competition. Now you’ll have to decide if you want to target these keywords, or specifically eliminate them from your target list. Both can be viable strategies, it will mainly depend on their resource budget vs. yours. If you think you can compete, go nose-to-nose. If not, targeting keywords they don’t rank for will have more impact.
We’ve come to the point where you’re going to want to do more general SEO research. Use the SEO module in your CMS if it has one, otherwise install a plug-in like Yoast SEO to analyze your site. Work your way through the resulting recommendations to ensure that your site is fully optimized, and work these practices into your blogging strategy going forward so all future pages will be optimized as well.
And now it’s time for the fun part, social media listening. This is a fancy marketing term for eavesdropping on your audience and competitors on social media. Using an account other than your corporate one, see what people are talking about. See what they’re saying about you and the competition. And crucially, see what pain points they’re talking about that you know your product/service can help with.
Develop a Solid Content Strategy
This is a critical, yet too-often overlooked piece of the organic traffic puzzle. As you work on the pieces of your fledgling strategy, some key aspects to be sure to include are:
- Social media
- Omni-channel content
Once you have an outline, it’s time to lay out some SMART goals for your content (we already know growing organic reach and traffic, and lead generation, here we’re talking specifics). We talk a lot about SMART goals here, and there’s a simple reason for that: there is no better way to ensure your goals are, in fact, smart ones. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. If your goals adhere to this rubric, you know they’re also actionable and will bring results.
Your strategy also needs to include a regular blogging schedule. We’ve already written at length on this subject, so for today, we’re going to leave it with this summary: 2-4 posts per week, including some energy put into rehabbing older posts to increase their evergreen draw.
As for social media, it’s the beginning of 2020. If your content marketing doesn’t yet include social media, it’s not really a content marketing strategy at all. There is simply no better way to publicize your content, engage followers, and interact with customers both new and potential.
Let’s bounce back to keywords for a moment. Using readily available tools like Google Adwords, Trends, and Ad Console; combined with third party offerings like MOZ, Spyfu, and ahrefs— you can begin to narrow down the universe of possible keywords to those most likely to resonate with your audience. Use the results of your earlier keyword research, too. Then, whittle that list down to a top 10, then a top 5 and set about working them naturally into your posts. Title tags, subheaders, meta descriptions, image alt-text, and body copy are all available as locations to work your keywords and keyphrases into.
Existing Customers: A Powerful Ally in the Hunt for Traffic
And finally, in all this rush to bring in new traffic, new readers, and new customers—don’t neglect your current customer base. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, especially considering that it’s technically free. Send your contact list useful coupons, special offers, holiday greetings, and the like. And be sure to include a “share with your friends” style message alongside those offers. People trust people, especially when they already know them. So these efforts will be rewarded with increased read rates, site visits, and best of all, new leads.