Imagine for a second that your ideal client is in desperate need for your product or service. They reach to their laptop and do a quick Google search, and they find your company in the third, second or even first spot on the search results. They click through to your website, they get hooked and they get in touch. Studies have shown that the top 5 results receive around 75% of all the clicks. As you can already tell, the value of being there on the top is priceless. But how to get there? without spending a penny on ads?
It is entirely possible to rank on the first page in Google for your focus keywords without spending on Google Adwords or social media ads or any kind of ads. This is not to say that the objective can be achieved without any efforts. You can’t make an omelette without eggs. There are two magical ingredients to making that happen. The first ingredient is “Content”!
Search engines have one important job to do, which is to be useful. They’re constantly indexing every single page out there and they’re using complex algorithms to try to understand what they’re indexing in order to serve you the most relevant results. In their journey of becoming more useful they have evolved so much only to reinstate the key principle that content is king. The bots of search engines are now able to understand content in almost the same way a human would, thanks to a domain of science called machine learning. The more authentic, original, and relevant the content is to your target audience and their search query, the higher the factors that would push it up in search results.
Content can take a variety of forms. It can be a blog post on a new trend, a client case study, an infographic about your industry, a podcast with an expert on a hot topic, a handy Excel sheet to organise information, or an ebook with a step by step guide on how to create something.
You might be thinking: All I have to do now is create a few blog posts and an infographic and off we go to the first row. Well, there’s more to it in order to make it work.
You will need to create effective content. For a piece of content to be effective it has to have a target audience and be relevant to that audience. Put yourself in the shoes of your target client. What are they looking for help with? How would they search for it? What are their goals and challenges? What are their interests? What could you say to them that will make them read to the end? What’s the title you would use to entice them to click through?
Try to be as niche as possible. As the internet keeps growing at a phenomenal pace, it is becoming more and more difficult to rank high for generic topics. The narrower your topic is and the longer the keyword is the better the chance you have of ranking at the top. To learn about the volume of searches and the difficulty of keywords you can use the free Keyword Planner tool from Google. Aim for difficulty scores that are lower than 30%.
Your content also needs to meet certain technical requirements which can be simplified into:
- A title that is shorter than 60 characters and includes your focus keyword or ideally starts with it
- A meta description that is shorter than 160 characters, includes your focus keyword and summarises your content in a reader-friendly way
- A URL that includes your focus keyword, using dashes “-“ to separate between words
- An H1 heading that shows at the top and includes your focus keyword
- Using the focus keyword a few times in the content in a natural way
- A relevant featured image with a file name and ALT text that are matching, ideally using your primary keyword
- Links to other relevant pieces of content on your website
Even if your content is an infographic, or a podcast or a tool, include it in a short blog post that explains it and meets the requirements.
The second equally important ingredient is “Exposure”. Now that you’ve created an amazing piece of content you will need to get it in front of as many people as possible. Without using advertising your best bet is to be very focused and targeted. If you already have a strong social media presence for you personally or your brand/company share your content with your followers. If are low on followers, your second best choice is to use hashtags. Post your content on Twitter or Instagram using hashtags that represent the topics covered by your content, or find the most popular or trending hashtags among your target audience and use them. With platforms such as Twitter and Instagram you can get much more interaction if you use your personal account. People interact wit people more than they do with brands.
Make sure that your website is equipped with social sharing buttons for pieces of content. The more social shares your content receives the better it works for the rankings.
Get into forums or Q&A websites such as Quora and you’ll find scores of people looking for answers or information that your piece of content delivers. Join the conversations in a genuine and respectful manner with the purpose of helping others, and link to your content whenever possible. Facebook, LinkedIn and Xing groups can also be the perfect place to promote your content.
Tap into the power of backlinks with authentic digital PR. There are writers, bloggers, journalists, and publications on almost every topic nowadays, and many of them are looking for themes or subjects for their next piece of content. Reach out to the relevant authors and influencers in a genuine and personalised manner and ask to help in their next unique feature. It won’t work with everyone but when it works it’s worth the efforts. One link from an author or a publication with high authority can propel your content way up.
Remember that when you eventually rank high up for a piece of content that you’ve created, visitors will come to that piece first and not your homepage. Your website needs to provide an easy navigation for users from the page they landed on, such as a sidebar with another relevant piece of content or download, or an intuitive top menu.