Search engine optimization is a fancy word. You want to get found. Sure, you can read blogs after blogs but if you don't understand the essence, you will keep doing random things.
But before we tackle the SEO, let's understand how else can you get found:
- Paid Ads
Ideally, you are a seller of sorts - selling socks, notepads, coffee or some software. And you want customers.
You go and pay someone to advertise you. That someone can be Google, an influencer or a spam company. (Sidenote: never pay someone to spam, it will eventually be not worth it.)
Let's set up a scenario.
You sell socks for $10 with a profit margin of $5. You go to an influencer to promote yourself. Every sock sold through her unique link - you will pay her $2.
And boom, you relax - you make socks and the influencer does all the work to get customers. Both of you gets rewarded. A small but important thing to note: your product or service has to be good enough - aim for being amazing.
Or rather, you go to an influencer and give $5000 based on her following. Whatever sales, you gulp up the profit. For you to break even, you need 1000 sales. Anything more is pure profit. Rinse and repeat - you are crushing every sale.
The where and how you spend money can be called different names - affiliate marketing, influencer collaboration, direct ads, brand sponsor and so on. But all of these are paid ads - you pay so your ad gets played and hopefully, you make sales with enough profit to keep going.
With this approach, you are practically guaranteed to succeed. But you aren't alone. There are hundreds of sock seller. And so, you need to offer nice ad rates or something unique in your product or service for that collaboration to happen. If you are a big company like Amazon or Google, go and spend millions to capture attention.
But if you are new and up-coming, you need to be conservative with your ad spending. You need to calculate and make sure you don't lose - lose enough money and you are out of business.
When To Use Paid Ads
Paid ads are the easiest and fastest way to get customers. Given your product is something that is desirable and people want it.
If you can use paid ads on a channel or a method to get even a little profit - keep perfecting the system. And using that repeatedly. Spend $5000 per month to get sales such that you get $500 profit. Keep doing that and slowly increase your budget. And boom, you can grow your sales.
But if you are tight on budget then avoid the paid route. Because it can be a learning curve. And it requires insights to make paid ads work.
For example, let's say you spend $5000 and lose $500 but your customers will be repeat buyers then paid ads is still good for you.
Start slow - experiment, find niches and be conservative unless you have a system in place to use it effectively for you.
Social media is a tricky platform. It often relies on you sharing the stuff and making it grow. You having a Facebook account is useless, you have to have friends on Facebook to make it interesting for you. So, in essence, every one of the users of Facebook drives the growth for them.
Want to make the next Twitter or Clubhouse - make something that can't be used in isolation. And make a compelling product.
Boom, your product will skyrocket. And once it has - it's the source of unending customers for your product or service.
The simple best example is this:
Sure, the blender company isn't advertising to blend IPADS into their blender. But this makes up for a fun video - people share it. And sure enough, if it can blend an Ipad, then it can blend whatever you have.
A great viral campaign driving sales for years. Because you get repeat customers, maintenance money and so on.
Virality isn't in your hands - you can't create one and hope it will succeed. You have to keep trying with creative ideas and hopefully one will become viral. If you can achieve this - this is practically the best ROI for getting customers. You make something once and it is seen by millions of people. And if you play your cards right, most will convert to buy your product or service.
When To Use Viral Campaigns
The question isn't when but why not.
Do something creative with your product or service every 3 months of so. The range of your virality doesn't have to be millions. If you get 1000 visitors per month and with your viral campaign got 10000 visitors, that's a win too.
Keep doing it - because a viral campaign doesn't have to be expensive. It has to be creative.
So, paid ads - in moderation, experimenting and slowly increasing your budget, if you have one.
And for viral campaigns - often, being creative and focusing on fun content rather than expensive content.
Let's now enter the SEO...
Search Engine Optimization
There are millions of websites and it ain't possible for people to remember all of them. Or find them. There used to be directories but it was boring and time-consuming.
And it wasn't guaranteed that what you intend to search would come up in directories. Thus the need for a search engine was born.
The idea is simple - you put in a query. And the bot does the searching in the directory. And with a bunch of algorithms, ranks the website. Naturally, the more your web search is used, the more algorithms can learn and better it becomes. It's a vicious cycle. And thus Google the giant search engine came to be.
Now, as a business owner, when we talk about SEO, we focus on Google. Because although there are other search engines - it isn't as robust or big as Google.
So, if you knew how Google worked then you can optimize your websites for them. But if you knew the algorithms then it would be cheating. And if everyone knew then where is the credibility. So, some tips are given by Google and some are hidden. Also, Google keeps updating or introducing new algorithms so you can't trick the system.
Below are some of the top-ranking factors:
If you are aiming to sell shoes then your article or your page should have the keyword 'shoes' in them. That's a no brainer. But since you are new to the business, there is much old business that is dominating the SEO game for the keyword 'shoes'.
So, do have them. But also, include long-tail less searched keywords - 'shoes for trekking in the snow'.
Because this is a specific use case of a shoe. And there will be less business competition for this keyword. You will have a better chance of winning for a long-tail keyword. Also, you can do your paid ads for long-tail to test conversions or interest.
There are some data to point that longer articles perform better. But a good domain authority ranks with shorter articles too.
My suggestion is to think of a topic. Let's say you want to focus a page on 'best snowshoes ever' - write such that if you as a customer comes to that page - all your answers will be solved. And it should be enough for you to make a decision - buy the shoes.
For some, they can convey their message in 20 words and 100 pictures, some in 2000 words and 1 picture. Use all media possible to convey.
Write the best possible article. And keep revisiting to update it every few months or so.
Good Enough Metrics
Visit a few of your competitors - observe what they do best and what they do bad. Survey some of the customers.
If your competitor has a fast website, make your fast too. If your competitor has bad fonts, use good fonts. Learn from the success and failures of your competitors. Often, you don't have to stand out too much. Deliver the expected results and your customers will stick.
Create a profile for your customers - an example of a profile is 'A 50-year-old guy with mid-income salary who wants to do leisure activity in snows.'
Make sure your website reflects that, your fonts, colour, length, conversations and price should reflect your customer profile.
This is probably the most important factor. You can outreach and get some backlinks for your website. Remember, don't do spammy stuff - be legit and go through proper means. And your domain authority will grow.
Remember, to interlink your articles where you feel appropriate. Collaborate with other brands - campaign together, provide scholarships and so on. These are some good ways to get backlinks.
Your business should be getting mentions or links at least once a month from good websites.
If your article is perfect then a higher domain authority business can outrank you. Get some good backlinks and be consistent about it.
Use a popular CMS and hosting system so that your website has the best mobile versions and do all the technical stuff properly. No broken links, secure your site, have a sitemap and proper headings and navigation.
This isn't a ranking factor as such - but doing it badly hurts people visiting and eventually you lose.
A customer doesn't want to buy on an unsecured site. If the structure of the site is wonky, people go to the competitor and if your site is slow, it's frustrating.
You Can Still Rank
These are all the SEO tips for ranking in Google because Google expects it. But you can not follow anything and still rank.
Imagine Apple doing an ad on TV for their new iPhone and selling exclusively on the website.
People will search for the iPhone. And scour the pages to find the official link. Seeing the human interaction, Google will have to update the apple website rank as no.1 for iPhone. Because people explicitly want it. If you have fans, they will come to you. And search engines have to bend for it.
So, in an essence, you should try to do SEO for the common searches. But also, try building a brand. That can be you or your brand name. So when people search for that, Google will have to put your website first. Because that's what people want. You can ignore all the things and still win if you have a brand or fan following.
One more example is Seth Godin blogs - he breaks most of the Google tips. And still ranks for his brand. You search 'Seth' - his first name and Google knows his fans might be searching for him. And this helps you rank for the common search terms too.
Hence, the biggest takeaway is to build a brand.
How To Build Anything
Here is the best piece of insight you will ever receive. Never create something no one wants. You can't create demand. Even big companies fail to create demand. You are here merely to serve the existing demand.
Demands change due to a variety of reasons - but often you single-handedly can't create or change demand.
Hence, if you see no competitor in the market, then that's a problematic start. You don't have to be a competitor directly. You can create your vertical.
For example, microphones exist and there is a demand for them. Suddenly, there is a demand for the podcast. You can differentiate your microphone as one for beginner podcaster. And thus, you can get a piece of the pie.
The second best insight is to create funnels. Imagine a funnel, it's wide and goes narrow. At the top, there is an entry for your customers and in the end - a percentage of those convert. Your job is to keep getting customers at the top of the funnel and make a great funnel experience. Customers will keep getting converted. Consider the below funnel:
- Awareness: You get your website seen via paid ads or organic SEO. Maybe 1000 people.
- Interest: 100 of those subscribes to your emails.
- Decision: 50 reads all your emails.
- Action: 5 buys your product or service.
This is an example of a funnel. Increase the numbers at the top of funnels and you increase your sales. You can have multiple funnels.
That's it. The complete SEO guide you need to understand, take action and succeed. It won't be easy. But it's simple.
- Create amazing product or service.
- Only create when there is a demand.
- Follow SEO practice to get discovered.
- Or do paid ads or go viral.
- This is the top of your funnel.
- Design your funnel such that you get sales at the end.
See you with a successful business. Stay awesome.