“Three … two … one … Ready or not, here I come!”
My daughter Sadie hides anxiously behind the living room couch, while her best friend is searching, calling out her name, and trying to find her.
Hide-and-seek, a game played out millions of times.
If you don’t know, hide-and-seek is a popular children’s game in which any number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers.
The hiding is not what makes it fun.
Kids will play for hours and hours when they continually find each other. When one of the children stays hidden for even five minutes too long, the others quickly lose interest.
It is a quest fueled by the moment of discovery.
Hey podcaster, stop hiding behind the couch
Now let’s think about why thousands upon thousands of content marketers, business owners, hobbyists, and fans start podcasts. More often than not, it’s to build an audience around a topic they love.
They start with enthusiasm and determination, only to quit after 10, 12, or 20 episodes (the number doesn’t matter, the quitting does).
Listeners couldn’t find their podcasts, so they quit. Like Sadie hiding behind the couch, when no one finds us, the game ceases to be fun and we quit.
Podcasts need to be actively optimized — not only to help you build an audience and authority, but also to help you stay motivated to not quit.
The search begins
The consensus amongst podcasters is that since Google can’t index audio, you can throw your
Apparently, “March Madness” on Copyblogger is less about college basketball and more about finding things to say about SEO.
One could say we painted ourselves into a corner by saying, “Technical SEO isn’t nearly as important for most sites as actually producing content worth consuming” … and then deciding to write about search optimization all month.
One might even call us foolhardy.
One may have a point.
Nevertheless, we persisted … and it turns out, good things happen when you persist.
On Monday, Jerod talked a bit about some of the easy-to-forget steps that do help those darned search engines understand what your site is all about. Because he’s Jerod, he also had to talk about college basketball. Honestly, it’s March, we’re lucky to have him on the blog at all. And it was a good, useful post.
Yesterday, I wrote about how to cultivate relationships with other folks who publish content … without it getting all icky and weird. Relationships are one of the most fundamental elements of SEO, but they’re also interesting to write about because we’re human beings. Most of us, anyway.
On the podcast network, we mixed it up a little. Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick shared some thoughts on affiliate marketing for digital entrepreneurs. Brian Clark talked with Marcus Sheridan about Marcus’s no-baloney approach to content marketing and his new book, They Ask, You Answer. And Kelton Reid sat down with The New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy to talk about memoir, reporting,
I understand why content marketers may avoid SEO: it seems complicated and time-consuming.
But I’ve got good news. Today, you’ll learn why content marketers like you are well-positioned to use SEO tactics — possibly even more so than *cough* an SEO like me.
Keyword research doesn’t have to be a marathon. A brisk, 30-minute walk can provide incredibly useful insights.
Even though keyword research benefits may not be obvious, the work you perform will help connect you to a wider audience on a deeper level.
Discovering how many people (a month) search for something, the words they use, and the questions they ask are important keys to more powerful content.
Why keyword research is essential
My previous company, Pryde Marketing, leveraged online data strategically for private medical practices.
When we were hired to do keyword research for an MRI company, we discovered that hundreds of people a month were searching “open vs. closed mri” but no sites provided any good answers, content, or photos for these searchers.
We decided to create a “Open vs. Closed MRI” page for our client that continues to see more than double the traffic of the homepage. And, it has brought in more than 50,000 unique visitors.
We were not successful because we thought of this content idea.
We were successful because we paid attention to the keyword data.
4 keyword research hacks
As Jerod Morris explained yesterday, there are keyword research tools built right in to the Rainmaker Platform and StudioPress Sites that you can use
“But I don’t really think about SEO very much anymore.”
That was my initial reaction when we all agreed that March would be SEO month here at Copyblogger. At which point, of course, I knew I’d have to write about it.
“Look, I just create useful content for people. Do that, get it read, get it shared, get links, have good hosting and fast page-load times … and productive search engine results will follow, right? I mean, what else is there to say?”
Turns out, plenty.
Keyword research is more fundamental to your content marketing strategy than you may think. Also, you may already be making fatal optimization mistakes. Plus, who knew SEO advice could be so … practical? (Including #8, which will punch you square between the eyes.)
I read those articles, rethought my position, and decided to examine exactly how much I actually think about SEO on a post-by-post basis.
And, turns out, plenty. (Whether or not I realized it.)
It’s easy to forget about the basic steps I’m going to outline below, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. Because the minute I stop doing them is the minute my content starts attracting fewer targeted visitors. Same goes for you.
So let’s start at the top, because the first one is by far the most important of the seven — and it will take me the longest to explain.
(Note: I’m going to use my site AssemblyCall.com as an example throughout this post. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which
Google reminds me that we’ve covered the intersection of Zen and business a few times at Copyblogger … which doesn’t surprise me a bit.
At the heart of Zen is the concept (which is not a concept) of nonduality. In the words of Shunryu Suzuki:
“To speak of waves apart from water or water apart from waves is a delusion. Water and waves are one.”
I’m sure Brian Clark had been rereading his Suzuki Roshi when he advised us on Monday to “forget SEO” — because the wisest practice of SEO is to get out of dualistic thinking about SEO. It’s not separate or distinct from your daily business — it’s a facet of what you already do.
On Tuesday, we saw the return of the shaved head and serene countenance of Gardner Roshi Brian Gardner — our esteemed partner over on the StudioPress side of the house, who let us know what he’s been up to for the past, oh, half-year or so. Brian has recently started answering questions live on Thursdays (2:00 p.m. Eastern Time) at the StudioPress Facebook page — swing by and say hello later today, if you like!
And on Wednesday, Stefanie briskly reminded us that, nonduality or no, there are such things as content mistakes. She pointed out five ways to fix common ones. (Zen is, as it happens, quite practical.)
On The Writer Files, Kelton Reid wrapped up his interview with Oliver Burkeman, the author of the very Zen title, The
This year on Copyblogger, each month has a theme — and in March, it’s search engine optimization.
That’s great news for some of you, and terrible news for others. If you’d rather eat a bug than think about SEO, you and I have much in common. On Monday, I wrote about some solid SEO advice that won’t have you contemplating a heaping bowlful of breakfast crickets.
I also gave you some simple, “you-can-totally-do-this” suggestions on Copyblogger FM. And on The Digital Entrepreneur, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick talked with SEO wizard Eric Enge about how search optimization has matured over the years and why it’s still important.
On Tuesday, Beth Hayden gave us a little gentle, user-friendly advice on keyword research. Finding your keyword phrases shouldn’t be a robotic process — it’s really about learning more about your audience and how they think.
Everyone on the editorial team has decided that Stefanie Flaxman won the week, with a Loverboy headline reference on Wednesday, combined with the subhead “The eye-roll heard round the world.” Well-played, Stefanie. This is a great post, too, about why writing actually is a pretty cool and amazing thing to do with your life.
Today we also published a new pair of Content Challenge prompts! These are exercises we do together as a community to get better at what we do … and more productive so we can make more great things happen.
Keep those creative thoughts flowing, and don’t overdo it on the breakfast crickets
Keyword research is always a hot topic in content marketing circles.
It’s one of those subjects that never goes out of style — because wise content marketers know that using the right words in their content will give them a big edge over their competition.
Wondering how to find the “right” words to optimize your business’s content? Here are three quick tips for solid keyword research.
1. Discover the language your prospects use when they talk about your topic
My friend Shawn, whose company Clear Harmonies creates custom a cappella arrangements for vocal groups, learned an interesting marketing lesson after performing some focused keyword research and talking to his customers.
He thought that his prospects searched for the term “a cappella arrangements” when they looked for arrangement services online. But he discovered they actually searched for the term “a cappella sheet music” much more often.
Shawn’s story illustrates why it’s important that you discover the actual language your potential customers use when they search for information about your topic (or look for vendors who provide your services).
This is not a time to guess or assume you know your audience so well that you know what they’re thinking.
In addition to online keyword research tools, you can also:
Check out the comments you get from your community members and pay attention to the terms they use when they tell stories, ask questions, and offer opinions about your content.
Collect keyword data about the terms people were searching for right
Search engine optimization — SEO — is one of those “you love it or you hate it” topics.
Some get a charge out of the challenge of keeping up with those wily engineers at Google.
Others would rather eat a bug than try to figure out what “headless crawling” means and which redirect is the right one to pick in months that end in R.
I have to confess, I’m in the bug-eating camp on this one.
Fortunately, although technical SEO is still important for some sites, there’s a crazy-powerful optimization technique that people like me can get really good at.
Yes, it’s content. (You already knew that, because you’re smart.) Yes, it has to be good content. And yes, I’m going to talk about what, specifically, “good” means.
But first, I’m going to talk about my most important search optimization rule.
The great rule of SEO
My first and primary rule, when thinking about search engines, is never to do anything for the sake of SEO that screws up the experience for the audience.
That cuts out some downright dumb behavior, like overstuffing your content with keywords.
But it also helps you evaluate new advice that comes along. If it makes your site less useable, if it makes your message less effective, or if it alienates or confuses your audience … you should probably skip it.
Here are nine SEO recommendations that also work to make your site experience better for the human beings who read your content, listen to your podcasts, and actually
You’ve probably noticed how much cheap marketing and writing advice is out there. So many hypey “hacks” … so few results.
We’re much more into the long game. It takes time and energy to produce good content, which is why we like solid, proven strategies that are actually worth your time.
This week, we have some deep dives for you.
On Monday, Beth Hayden shared some thoughts on promoting your content to improve your SEO. (Like all good SEO recommendations, content promotion isn’t just for search engines — its most important function is to find more humans who would love to read, watch, or listen to your content.)
On Tuesday, Aaron Orendorff wrote about one of our favorite things — evergreen content. Instead of trying to chase news (along with thousands of other sites in your topic), with evergreen content, you develop a thoughtful, compelling angle on a subject and put in the extra work that lifts it above the usual noise. Aaron gives 20 ideas you can use to shape content that will work for the long haul.
I have a suggestion for you: Take Aaron’s list of 20, pick the ones that resonate with you, and get one onto your calendar for each month of 2017. They won’t be 12 easy posts to write … but if you put real effort into them, they’ll bring genuine, long-lasting authority to your site.
On Wednesday, I pulled together some of my favorite Copyblogger posts from 2016, with a few words