Here's the thing with SEO lately.....
Doing 5 or 10 pages of good on-page SEO doesn't have the impact it had just a few years ago.
The landscape of SEO has changed as Google's algorithm has changed and as businesses have become more savvy about Search Engine Optimization.
Businesses starting up today are far more likely to understand that strong foundational SEO is a minimum requirement....which just serves to make the climate way more competitive.
As the SEO playing field is leveled, and more businesses are starting out of the gate with a good foundation of on-page search engine-optimization, newer more advanced SEO strategies have emerged.
So, don't be discouraged:
Newer Advanced SEO Strategies Offer Opportunities to Overtake Lazy Competitors!
This is a good thing!
Let me share some examples of newer "advanced SEO strategies" to employ once your basic Foundational SEO is already in place. (And really, it's not that these techniques are so "advanced", it's just that I find many business owners are unfamiliar with what can be done to positively impact SEO outside of "keywords, title tags and meta descriptions".)
1. Local SEO
It could be argued that Local SEO is "foundational" for any business that targets an audience by location, but still many business owners don't know about what an advantage it can provide.
Centering around the Google My Business listing showing up in the Local 3-Pack, Local SEO is one of the easiest ways for a local business to compete with a large competitor....by showing up in that 3-pack. Like most SEO strategies, it doesn't work alone in a silo, it works best when combined with On-Page SEO and other tactics.
You can read a more in-depth explanation in this Local SEO post, but the major components are:
- An Optimized Google My Business Profile
- Getting Reviews on you Google My Business Profile
Set up the infrastructure for consistently asking your clients for reviews. This may include a “Tell Us What You Think” page on your website, or standardized email you can send clients with instructions on how to leave a review for your business on Google, lowering the barrier to completion. You can even create handouts that explain how to ask for reviews.
- Structured Data (Non-Local Businesses can use this, too)
Structured data is on-page markup that enables search engines to better understand the information currently on your business’s web page, and then use this information to improve your business’s search results listing. For example, structured data makes it easier for web crawlers to determine company basics, such as NAP (name, address, place) data, as well as more complex information such articles, events, products, recipes, etc. on your website.
Specific examples of Structured Data we will put in place include Name, Address and Phone (NAP), location information, descriptive information, or reviews.
Standardize Name, Address, Phone (NAP) across all components of your web presence.
2. Target Local Organic Search with City Landing Pages
When your business address is one city, it can be difficult to rank in the Local 3-Pack in surrounding cities because you are not geographically the closest.
Getting lots of reviews on your Google My Business listing will help you move up the ranks in the 3-Pack, but you can also target the organic search results for target cities by creating City-Specific Landing Pages.
This tactic is well-suited to a "Service Area Business" who has an address in one city, but serves clients in many of the surrounding cities.
The idea: Optimize a unique/high quality page for each city or market in your service area to increase the likelihood of ranking on organic results for that your search terms in that city.
These city landing pages are tricky and need to be written so that they contain information relevant to that city. I really can't stress this enough.....City landing pages with thin or duplicate content for each city can actually penalize your site, so thought needs to put into these pages!
There may be a lot of cities you want to target, but I recommend starting with the most important. Spreading it out over time will be easier on the budget and have the added benefit of demonstrating activity on the website over some time...showing that it's growing and you are providing more content.
Here are some ideas for inspiration on what might be included on a city landing page (some of these are courtesy of Moz's Landing Pages Guide:
- Showcase completed projects or events in each city, using text and photos.
- Publish customer testimonials from customers in each city, encoded in Schema review markup (more on Structured Data below).
- Offer city-specific specials or coupons on the city page.
- Share advice and news regarding laws, codes, weather, terrain or issues that are important to a specific community and relevant to your industry.
- Provide unique do-it-yourself tips for things customers can do on their own.
- Share details of your involvement in specific cities, such as events you participate in or organizations you sponsor.
- Embed a Google map of the city location
3. Websites Need a Strategy for Some Quality Growth
....not growth just for growth's sake, but growth with a purpose that doesn't center around churning out junk content.
The number of indexed pages of a website is not a direct factor in search engine rankings.
More Pages ≠ Better Rankings, but having more pages gives you more opportunities to rank.
The quality of the pages also matters...a lot.
Quality content should do much more than create more real estate for search engines to index.
Quality content educates potential clients, highlights your expertise, answers common objections that clients have, and promotes your activities and events... all while providing more digital real estate for Google to index.
Choose a Blog or Content Strategy
Whether you decide to call it business blogging, news and events, or an educational portion of your website, having a content strategy requires an ongoing effort.....know that going in.
Here are some content tactics to consider using in your overall strategy:
New Content Strategies to Try
1. Long-Tail Tactic: Topical Blog Posts targeting Long-Tail Keyword Phrases Can Help You Rank Faster
This tactic is well-suited for businesses in a competitive niche where it is difficult to break page 1 results for the most common keyword phrase.
The idea: Write blog posts that target longer, more specific (yet-related) keyword phrases and try to rank for those first, building traffic and visibility.
For instance, consider a company offering "Concrete Leveling" as a service. Their Concrete Leveling service page should likely be optimized for the phrase "Concrete Leveling", but since this is a general term, it will take some time and effort before it will rank.
Using the long-tail tactic, they could write blog posts targeting more specific keyword phrases such as “How to fix sinking concrete steps”.
- Benefit 1: This phrase is more specific and therefore by nature a less competitive phrase for which to rank than a term such as ‘Concrete leveling”.
- Benefit 2: Buyers who are searching for this phrase are aware they have a problem, but are possibly completely unaware of your solution. By addressing this question specifically and potentially ranking for it, you increase your chances of engaging that potential client much earlier in the buying process, building trust and increasing the chances they will convert.
- Benefit 3: You are creating useful content for users while simultaneously creating more digital real estate for Google to index. (It's a win-win)
This example hopefully also demonstrates how ongoing content initiatives can be more powerful than just supporting SEO goals.
Regular keyword-driven posts to the blog support SEO goals by putting keyword-rich content on the site. Posts that target long-tail keywords can gain visibility for more specific search terms as well as capture prospects at the right time in the buying cycle.
This type of content speaks to potential clients who are vetting online before they decide to purchase. Extensive helpful, persuasive content on a website reinforces that you are an expert. It starts the trust conversation before you ever speak.
2. Promote Your Content...It Leads to More Traffic (which Google Notices)
"Promoting your content" doesn't have to cost anything. Promote your content for free by sharing it on social media or send it out to your list via email marketing.
When you send out information via email newsletter, or you share it on social media, it is more powerful for that content to have a permanent home on your website (typically in the blog) than to exist only in the newsletter or on a social media post.
Don't get me wrong...definitely keep sharing and posting tidbits on social media, but when you create content, create it on your own digital real estate...your website.
No matter how the content is distributed and promoted (email, social), by having the content exist permanently on your site, you are able to:
- Connect people back to your site from social media or email which increases traffic
- Increase the size and number of opportunities for your site to rank by having more posts
- Increase natural links back to your site (which Google sees and expects these days with social media)
- Increase internal links on your site by linking to and ‘reusing’ the content in the future when you talk about the concept in other posts (check out some of the links in this post...they are taking you to other parts of our site that discuss the topic in more detail)
- Potentially invite links back from other websites. If a piece of content you put together is really informative and thorough, other websites may link to it.
3. Educational Content Demonstrates Expertise
Content initiatives don't always have to be 'blog posts'. An educational section of the website can do wonders....for example,
If we go back to our Concrete Leveling Company example, they could create a "Concrete Leveling 101"" section (or similar) on the website over time.
This is essentially a blown out FAQ section where they explain how concrete leveling works step by step answering all the questions people always ask, demonstrating common applications, clarifying common objections, etc. Each page of this section would have images or even video (#youtubechannel).
Try googling "How does concrete leveling work?".
This is extremely valuable information for potential clients who are now aware that there is a solution to their problem..."Oh wow, concrete can be leveled!" And now they are looking for more information.
By having this content on their site, the Concrete Leveling Company demonstrates expertise, creates more digital real estate for search engines to crawl, and provides opportunity to link back to the product and service pages.
You can really get as creative as you want, but some other web content ideas for ongoing posts are:
- What we’re working on, project recaps
- News and Events
- Best Practices
Implementing the Content Plan
Coming up with a plan for content is always easier than the actual implementation. Every website and company is different, but generally speaking, a great target is to get 2 keyword driven pieces of content on your website each month….but I also believe 1 piece of content is better than zero!
The advanced SEO strategies we've covered here hopefully have you thinking a little differently about your website and Search Engine Optimization.
The concepts aren't overly-difficult or super-secret weapons, you just need a plan and to make the commitment to execute.