Organic traffic stands out from the rest (paid, referral, direct, social) because it is a huge source of traffic and completely passive.
Unless you possess a near-celebrity level of influence, it is not easy to drive visits to your site by word of mouth (referral and direct). Which leaves us with social and paid traffic.
These days, you need to pay to play on large social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to drive significant traffic. Boosting Facebook / Instagram posts will have to be an ‘always-on’ campaign if you want to be active on those platforms.
But if you don’t want to keep bleeding out in ad spend to maintain your source of traffic, then SEO is the most sustainable strategy.
Organic search traffic is one of the largest sources of traffic out there. There are over 3.5 billion search queries made on Google every day.
Capturing just 1% of a keyword’s high traffic potential can mean hundreds of thousands in visits from Google to your business every month. For FREE!
But Search Engine Optimization is difficult. With over 200 ranking factors on Google, things can get overwhelming. But we don’t need to break our back to get started with SEO.
So what I’d like to do today is breakdown a minimum viable SEO strategy for beginners. If you’re a startup blog or business but don’t know how to get started with SEO then this guide will help!
#1. Content is First.
First, let’s start with content.
Content is King because ranking on Google requires some form of content placement. Whether it’s ranking a page, an image, video, featured snippet, etc.
Here’s an example of Google organic search results –
Every ranking is content. Today, we’ll focus on traditional organic listings (position #1-10) and what we can do to optimize the content of a page to rank on search results.
Content richness: The content of your page should be comprehensive, keyword targeted and answers search intent.
Your content should have at least 800 – 1,000 words to be sufficiently comprehensive. More information means more opportunities to use related keywords, long-tail keywords to increase your relevance to match what people are searching for.
Focus on a keyword topic which will be the cornerstone of your content. We don’t want to create an article with no focus. Aim for a keyword target to rank for and create content that covers that topic thoroughly. We want to go deep here.
Content that serves a purpose answers a specific intent — search intent. It is the ‘why’ behind your audience’s search query. Knowing why your audience is searching helps you create the right answers to their problem.
Search intent can be very powerful in content development. It could change your entire keyword targeting. So take some time to understand the motivation behind your audience’s search query. A great tool to do this is Google Search Console.
GSC shows you a search query report which is the exact search terms people use to find your website on Google.
On-Page SEO: Work on Title, Meta Description, H1, URL structure and Internal Links of your page.
On-Page SEO is about optimizations you can do on the page itself.
You have complete control over how fantastic your SEO can be in this aspect. So we’ll put our best foot forward and make every on-page element 10/10 in terms of SEO.
Here are 5 of the most impactful on-page SEO optimizations you can do on every article before hitting publish:
Your title is the most important on-page element for every page.
- contains a target keyword, preferably in the beginning
- under 70 characters
- contains a call-to-action word
- catchy, evokes emotional response
- accurately summarises the content of your article
(ii) Meta Description
The meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result.
- at least 165 characters long
- targets 1 main keyword and 2-3 long tail keywords
- contains a call-to-action word in the beginning
- Use one H1 tag on each blog post/page.
- Summarise your post’s content in the h1, resembling a headline.
- Length: 20-70 characters in length
- It contains at least one long-tailed keyword in your H1.
- Style: H1 font size should be 2x bigger than your paragraph font.
(iv) URL structure
- Use keywords in URLs but don’t keyword-stuff the url.
- Use hyphens (-) for word separation. Not underscores ( _ ), not the pound symbol, not anything else.
- Have only one URL for each page.
(v) Internal Linking
- Add at least 2 internal links to other pages on your site.
- Make sure the anchor text of your internal links have a relevant keyword. It should be not be “learn more” “click here”.
Once you’ve got these 5 checkpoints covered, your minimum viable on-page SEO is good to go.
#2. Keyword Strategy is Next.
Next, a proper keyword strategy to make sure your content gets ranked. This part is all about choosing the right keywords with the most value to target in your content.
We shall define value as –
- Keywords with high search volume potential
- Keywords with weak competition
- Keywords with a conversion focus
How to Find Keywords with High Search Volume Potential
Use Google Keyword Planner to find the avg. monthly searches of keywords. Throw the keywords that are relevant to your business in GKP, and check the avg. monthly searches.
Keywords in the 1K-10K range and 10K-100K range have high search volume. Ranking for these keywords will certainly drive tons of traffic to our site.
If you want to narrow down the content topics and aim for long-tail keywords, that’s fine too. But because those have lower search volume (e.g, “homemade mask for glowing skin”), make sure you include some seed keywords too.
How to Find Keywords with Weak Competition
Next, we have to find keywords with low ranking difficulty. There’s no accurate way to determine keyword ranking difficulty without using an intelligence tool.
Ubersuggest has this really handy feature that allows you to do this for free. A low difficulty keyword score would be 30 and below.
Try using this filter function:
- set the search volume to min: 1000
- set the SEO difficulty to max: 30
There we go, a list of juicy keywords to target that has at least 1,000 searches and are not too difficult to rank for (below 30).
Another way to check your SEO competition is by analyzing Google SERP.
Using Ubersuggest, you can do a very quick and effective competitive analysis by looking at who is currently ranking on page #1 for your target keyword.
Click on that arrow box for the keyword you want to analyze, and Ubersuggest provides a SERP analysis on the right. Pages with a high domain score above 50 are very difficult to beat.
In one glance, you can tell how strong your competition is for the keyword you want to rank for. If you see that majority of the top 10 ranking pages have >50 scores, you’re likely aiming for a very competitive keyword.
How to Find Keywords with a Conversion Focus
Lastly, find keywords with a conversion focus. These keywords are usually medium-tail and long-tail keywords which are more specific keywords.
Conversion focused keywords target people lower down the funnel and has commercial intent. You’ll want to rank for keywords that target people in the consideration and purchase stages.
In my course, SEO Demystified Primer, I deep dive into keyword strategy and the concept of keyword funnel mapping.
#3. Link Building is Last.
Lastly, link building. We save the best for last.
Everything we’ve done in the first and second steps will be for naught if there are no links pointing to our site. But you should not embark on link building until you’ve content and keywords sorted out.
Building backlinks is about outreach, increasing your domain authority and trust flow. This is now an intermediate stage of SEO and should only be done after you’ve created a strong on-page SEO foundation.
Backlinks are a signal of authority and search engines use the (i) number of backlinks and (ii) quality of those backlinks pointing to a site to determine its trustworthiness.
The higher your website’s trust flow (or commonly referred to as domain authority), the higher your rankings.
There’s debate on whether links still matter today in SEO, you can bet it sure does.
No backlinks = No authority = No ranking
With a few days and some dedication, anyone can create great content. But not everyone can score an authoritative backlink from an established site like Forbes, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, etc.
Getting backlinks from authoritative sites signal to Google that your site is trustworthy and deserves to be ranked. The higher your domain authority, the higher your chances to climb up the search results.
Here are 2 of the most effective ways to build backlinks:
- Guest Posting
- External Linking
What is Guest Posting?
Guest posting is posting a blog post on someone else’s website as a guest.
When you submit a guest blog post on another website, you can insert a hyperlink within the guest post content to your own website. Voila! A backlink built.
Here’s an example of a guest post I wrote for Epife on topic clusters.
You can find niche-relevant sites to guest post on in any industry.
Use any of the follow search operators to find niche blogs accepting guest posts:
- niche + guest post
- niche + guest
- niche + write for us
Compared to guest posting, external linking is a passive way of building relationships with other websites.
It’s a good practice of including other authoritative sources in your article by linking out to them, and chances are, they notice and end up featuring you in their blogs too.
I’ve been blogging for the last 2 years and found a few high domain authority sites linking to me out of goodwill.
This method is more passive but you can give them a shoutout (tweeting it works really well), and they’ll notice. Chances are the other party will give you a shoutout in return.
That’s it, a minimum viable SEO strategy to get your new startup blog ranked with content, keywords and backlinks!