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Recently I have once again been exploring the world of SEO.
I say once again because I have periodically dipped my toe over the last 10 years determined to get my head around how it all works, only to give up after a week or so because it’s so bloody complicated/long-winded and frankly boring.
Clearly I am not a ‘devil is in the detail’ person. It’s a weakness.
But as one of my main goals over the next few years is to grow my site I felt it only right to give it a go once again.
Here’s the thing though, in my niche, ‘building a lifestyle business’, the keywords I would like to rank for are so ridiculously competitive it seems like a pointless task to even try.
My logic is backed up by all the SEO blogs I read who say anything with a keyword difficulty over about 20 is not worth competing with and as most of my keywords are 50+, case closed.
In this instance, the advice is to use long-tail keywords and sure enough – ‘Build a lifestyle business you can be proud of and that will change your life and that you can do while watching TV & picking your nose’, isn’t too competitive! So I can see where they’re going with that.
But seriously, how important is it?
Should we care enough about SEO to devote some of our precious time towards it?
That’s what I’m exploring in today’s podcast.
So, here’s the result that came up top of the search engine when I typed in ‘Should I care about SEO?’
Consumers utilize search engines to research companies to meet their needs. If you are not optimizing your website content for those common search phrases, and your competitors are, you will lose the prospect each and every time. Assuming you want to remain competitive in your industry, SEO is an absolute must.
Makes sense, but as I said if you happen to be in a competitive niche then is there any point?
Well from my findings the general answer is Yes, but how much we care depends on our objectives.
If you go to google and type in ‘How to Start a Blog’ you will see on the front page (about result 6) a post by a chap called Ryan Robinson – How to Start a Blog.
I’ve actually featured Ryan on one of my blog posts previously because his posts are so in-depth & valuable.
From that one blog post he’s now earning around $20k a month in affiliate commissions from Bluehost the hosting company.
How he got to page 1 for such a competitive keyword is a podcast episode in itself and I encourage you to listen to the interview.
But in summary, he made sure his post was more valuable than any of the other posts for that keyword. (Note I said more valuable, not necessarily longer, although it is very long – around 25k words!)
He covers every conceivable question about starting and running a blog, includes images, infographics, videos and links to podcast interviews, plus of course it’s littered with the relevant keywords throughout the post.
But writing an incredible post and publishing it is only the beginning.
He then had to obviously promote it out to his list, social media accounts etc and everyone he may know in the industry who could provide an all-important backlink to it.
Because that my friend this is the secret sauce to SEO. Backlinks from high-quality reputable sites. Right now by mentioning him in this podcast and adding a link on my blog post I am passing link juice to him by linking back to his article.
So he purposely picked a high volume competitive key phrase with high levels of commercial intent. In other words, anyone searching the term ‘How to Start a Blog’ is likely looking to start their own site and needs all the tools and platforms to do so. And by getting the post to the top of Google rankings is now earning considerably from it.
Rob’s posts are drafted by a writing team and then polished off and honed into an informative, valuable post by him which will appeal to almost anyone searching for that keyword.
Rob is an entrepreneur and has created a blog specifically with the goal of monetizing it which is reflected in the headlines on his site;
On the other hand, one of my favorite blogs in the world – markmanson.net is currently at position No 1 for the key phrase ‘be an asshole’.
Now ironically, that is still a very competitive keyword but whether it has commercial intent or not is clearly open for discussion!
Mark’s strategy is very different. He does not include affiliate links within his content, he is not looking to reach the top of Google with the pure intention of selling something related to a specific keyword and instead monetizes his site via his books and a monthly subscription service to get all his best content.
His blog posts are also long and possibly strategically littered with keywords that promote his book titles – (how he’s not on page 1 for the word ‘f**k, I’m not sure), but his posts are creative. They’re an acquired taste. They’re not written for the masses, they’re written for people who like his particular style of writing.
Mind you I say not for the masses, visit any airport in the world at the moment and his books are No 1 & No 2, so he’s clearly resonating with a lot of people!
Mark, in my opinion, is an artist first (as an author), and generates revenues from his art. Which is reflected in his headlines;
A third option is an approach taken by people like;
You’ll notice from their sites that some of their posts are keyword intentional and some are strictly from the heart.
And I have to be honest, the latter is the approach I’m focusing on.
Some highly optimized posts and some equally as valuable but perhaps a little more obscure posts.
So, you really have to decide what your objective is to decide how important SEO is to you.
If your goal is simply to build a blog to monetize it, then your entire focus should be on becoming an expert at either SEO, or social media marketing, or PPC, etc.
Your main focus is on getting traffic and it’s likely a lot of your content can be outsourced.
If however you’re more of an artist and are creating content for the love of it while also hoping to monetize what you publish along the way then your focus is going to be more on the content side and it’s likely much of the promotion can be outsourced.
Does that make sense?
For those of you who, like me, want to have their cake & eat it, here’s my strategy for growing my site over the next year or so.
Then make a list under each theme of all the topics you would love to cover on your blog.
For example under Business on mine, I have ‘Lifestyle Business’, ‘Content Marketing’, ‘Ecommerce’, ‘Social Media’, Email Marketing’ & so on.
Using the Google Uber suggest feature, youtube & if you want the Google planner tool, type the keyword or phrase for your topic into the search bar and make a list of titles you would love to write about using the suggestions as inspiration.
For example, I have titles like; “ How to Start a Lifestyle Business While Traveling the World’, ‘The Best Lifestyle Business to Start in 2020’, ‘Why Instagram is Perfect for a Lifestyle Business’, ‘How to Start a Shopify Business With Less than $100’.
I actually set myself a goal of coming up with 10 titles per topic and I ended up with 93 titles altogether just under the main theme of Business. Once you start you’ll be amazed at all the ideas you have!
Now write the titles under the themes that Google can’t help you with, in other words, your creative, from the heart posts. The posts that tend to tell us much more about the person who’s writing them (even if the post isn’t directly about them).
For example under my travel theme, I don’t want to write about the 10 Best Places to Visit in Phuket, although that’s likely a hot keyphrase.
I want to write posts like; ‘Why Rhett (My Partner) Dressed in Cut Off Stockings in a Thai Massage Parlour’ & ‘Why My Sister Likes to Get Naked every time She Comes to Thailand’, & ’What Happened When I Bumped Into Mark Zuckerburg on the Great Wall of China’.
Those are the kind of posts that are much more about my personality and demonstrate the ‘lifestyle’ aspect of our life on the road, but won’t necessarily get picked up for any huge keywords.
I may well include a list of the 10 Best Places to Visit in Phuket in one of the posts, but it won’t be the focal point.
Then for your SEO style posts, each time you sit down to write one or get one created, you’ll just need to do a bit of work on your headline & key phrase to ensure there are people searching for it and it is potentially rankable.
Don’t get too caught up here, you can use a tool like Google keyword planner or just plug your headline into Google if other people have written about the same topic and there are hundreds of thousands of results for your key phrase then you can be pretty sure people are searching for it.
However, if you really want to drill down, then you would need an SEO tool like Ahrefs which is awesome but $99 / month!
I recently found one called Keysearch, which is similar to Ahrefs, although not quite as much functionality but certainly enough to do what we need to do to ensure we can create the best headlines & key phrases for our posts and it’s only $12 / month.
With Keysearch you can plug in your potential key phrase and it will show you search volume and Keyword difficulty, ie, how difficult it will be to rank for your phrase.
For example, I typed in one of my titles ‘The Best Lifestyle Business to Start in 2020’ and it came up with a great key phrase – ‘best business ideas for women’ keyword difficulty 27.
Keyword difficulty is based on scores from 1 – 100 with the higher number being the more difficult. Apparently anything over about 35 is extremely hard unless you have a very strong domain rank. So I tend to look for key phrases under 30.
So that’s definitely something I could write about and my title might be ‘The Best Business Ideas for Women in 2020’.
It’s also a good idea to get the Yoast SEO plugin. It comes highly recommended and allows you to put in your title, meta description etc (describe the sections). This will help even with the posts that aren’t focused on SEO as you can still pick a key phrase you want google to focus on.
I wonder if Mark plugged in ‘be an asshole’ for his! :)
Always remember to write for your audience first and the search engines second. There’s nothing worse than a badly written post stuffed with irrelevant keywords and google is getting very good at sniffing them out.
And secondly, remember to promote promote promote once you’ve published a great post. The beauty is in the backlinks as I like to say. (I just made that up!)
You need to share your masterpiece with the world and hopefully, the world will pass it on!
So if you’ve loved this episode do feel free to share it with your friends or link back to the show notes on my blog from your site! Every little helps! :)
P.S. Subscribe to Backlinko.com by the way. Best blog out there on all things SEO!
In summary here’s a great quote from the awesome Steve Martin;
‘Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.’
Now got get em you awesome blogger you! :)
Thanks for listening, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode!
Remember to Live Life on Purpose & of course Make It Happen.