x

Careers

We're always looking for the best and brightest to increase our ranks. Think you might be a good fit for The Martin Group? Take a look at our currently open positions.

Contact Us

Learn how we can help your business. Call Meg Hunter at 716-242-7463, send an email, or fill out an online form.

SEO in 45 Minutes

July 28, 2017

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions for marketers and business owners: how can I rank higher in search? The reason is simple: the amount of traffic you receive by ranking #1 for a specific term is tremendous compared to further down the page, which can have a huge impact on the success of your business.

But if it’s so beneficial, why don’t more companies invest in their SEO? There are three key reasons that stop companies in their tracks:

  • No experience with SEO and how it works
  • Limited time to put in the effort
  • Lack of budget to invest in outside help

To help combat this common issue, I want to show you how you can improve your search engine ranking with a small investment each week. At the end of 45 minutes, you’ll have created a targeted, keyword focused blog post that is being promoted online. This isn’t a silver bullet to ranking #1 and excludes some key elements for a successful SEO campaign (which will be covered at the end).

At its core, SEO is all about providing relevant content to people who are seeking it out. Through this exercise, you will learn how SEO fundamentals can align with your business goals and provide the necessary skills to make an impact on your search engine ranking.

Hands typing on a laptop


Why limit ourselves to 45 minutes?

Limiting the time for this exercise provides some much-needed focus, removing the non-essential elements to concentrate on what can provide value to your search ranking.

These activities can also fit into an average work week. Even if you have an extremely busy schedule, you can look through your calendar and carve out 9 minutes per day to invest in your SEO.

 

What do I need to begin?

To help keep this focused, some elements need to be in place before we can begin. If you answer “No” to any of the questions below, you should focus on resolving those issues before proceeding.

  1. Do you have a clearly defined audience that you know well? SEO is all about providing your target audience with relevant content. If you don’t know who they are or what their interests are, that should be your current priority.
  2. Do you have a website that can be updated with new blog posts? Your content needs a place to live that you own. Although platforms like Medium and Facebook might help you reach a certain audience, they don’t provide the same value to your website as having native content.
  3. Does your website have Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools properly installed? Google is the largest provider of search traffic, so it makes sense that they provide tools that will help you improve the usefulness of your website and how it is displayed in search results. To help measure the ongoing performance of your site, we recommend installing both of these tools on your website.

 

STEP 1: Analyze Your Website (5 min)

Search engines want to provide the best possible resources to its visitors. Websites are therefore ranked by the value they provide visitors, which is a combination of the content quality, reputation of the website, and how easily and quickly the content can be accessed. Website performance is one of the biggest missed steps when optimizing for search and can have a drastic negative impact.

To identify any issues your website might have, we recommend using the following Google-provided tools to analyze your site and see where some adjustments may be necessary.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools

This suite of tools provides many resources for understanding your performance via Google Search. For this exercise, we’ll focus on three key areas to review once you’ve logged in and selected your website:

  1. Search Appearance > HTML Improvements – This section will show you if there are any issues with the underlying makeup of your website that would impact how your site appears in search. If changes need to be made, you’ll likely need to adjust your website’s code with the aid of a developer.
  1. Crawl > Crawl Errors – This section will show you pages on your website which are no longer accessible via Google. This can happen if you change a page’s name, location, or completely remove a page without telling Google where someone should go instead. Your website should be updated to redirect these pages to a new location with the aid of a developer or a redirect plugin.
  1. Security Issues – The final section will highlight any security issues that Google has found on your site. These security issues can mean that your site has been hacked, or your website loads files (such as images, fonts or videos) from a site that was hacked. Resolving issues caused by the hacking of your website can be difficult and time consuming, so we recommend consulting with a developer or IT professional if any issues are identified.

Google Pagespeed Insights

Google Page Speed

This tool provides a snapshot of how your website is performing on desktop and mobile devices and provides recommendations on how to improve. A poor website experience cannot only turn away your target audience, but also cause search engines to rank you lower than the competition.

To perform an audit of your site:

  1. Visit the Page Speed Insights landing page
  2. Enter your website’s URL and click the Analyze button
  3. Once the audit is complete, click to review each of the issues identified and recommended fixes

Resolving the issues identified from this audit will likely require the assistance of a web developer. Depending on your website’s theme and features, not all optimizations may be possible.

 

STEP 2: Audience Selection & Keyword Research (10 min)

SEO is all about improving your site to be the best resource for what people are looking for. In this step, we’ll zero in on who we want to target and what content we think will resonate with them.

A Row of People

Audience Selection

Think of your current sales process and who the key decision makers are. Use the following questions to hone in on one specific target.

  1. Which decision maker is most likely to be seeking answers or information online?
  2. What specific problems do you know they have during the day-to-day of your business? (Think about problems directly and indirectly related to your product or service)
  3. What knowledge do you have that could help them solve these problems?

Keyword Research

Now that you’ve identified your audience and what problems you can help them with, it’s time to determine what key terms and content are worth pursuing.

Keyword Research

The Process

Keyword and content researching tools provide information about how often certain words are searched, the competition related to these words and relative popularity of content related to it.

Using the tools detailed below, follow this process:

  1. Make a short list of ways to phrase the problem that your target audience is facing
  2. Enter key terms from your list into the keyword tools
  3. Identify which terms are higher in search volume and lower in competition
  4. Identify which terms have popular content and who is posting that content (Include potential influencers regarding social media)
  5. Reduce your list to 5-10 terms

The Tools

There is a wide range of paid tools that can help expedite the research process. The following are some free alternatives you can use for this exercise. Feel free to explore their paid features to streamline your workflow.

  • KeywordTool.io  Useful for identifying Google, Bing and YouTube keyword suggestions. Also provides recommendations based on Google’s suggested search terms.
  • SEOBook  Provides monthly/daily searches and estimated cost per click. Use this in combination with the terms you get from KeywordTool.io to determine the volume and overall competition (If you decide to pay for KeywordTool.io you can skip this tool entirely).
  • SEMRush – Provides tools to identify traffic for specific keywords, competitive analysis and ongoing monitoring. Use the SEO Content Template tool with the keywords you’ve identified to get content recommendations based on the top Google results. To determine which sites are promoting your highest competition, enter the “Top 10 Rivals” website addresses into the Domain Analytics > Backlinks tool.

 

STEP 3: Content Creation (30 min)

Now that you have your key terms identified, it’s time to actually create your content. Search engines are looking to promote the most relevant, high quality content for people that are searching, so this step should take the majority of your time in this exercise.

Hands typing on a laptop

As there are countless resources online that provide guidance on how to write effective blog posts, we won’t delve into any deep detail on the content creation portion of this process. To help aid in your SEO efforts, here are some key tips that we recommend when creating your post:

  1. Clearly define the problem your post will help the reader solve
  2. Create a headline that includes one key term you are targeting (From Step 2)
  3. Create an outline of your post. This will provide guidance as to what sections your post will have and where you need to provide detail
  4. Lead your post with details about the problem your reader is having and how you will help them overcome it. Don’t bury the purpose!
  5. Where possible, seed in additional keywords identified from Step 2. Don’t force them into your writing; use them as naturally as possible

 

STEP 4: CONTENT PROMOTION (5 min)

Now that you’ve written a post that speaks directly to your audience, it’s time to promote it. A big factor regarding search ranking is reputation – the more sites that link to your content and more people that promote it, the higher its perceived quality is.

Giving a presentation to a crowd

Owned Channels

Syndicate your content through your email marketing list, social media channels and your personal contact list. You can use a tool like Buffer to schedule social media posts in advance. Feel free to continue to promote this content throughout the year – it will be new to those who missed it the first time.

Influencers

In Step 2, we recommended searching social media for people who shared the most popular content related to your keywords. It’s very likely that they could be interested in your new content. Reach out to them via social media or through a cold email to see if they are interested.

 

STEP 5: What’s Missing?

You’ve successfully concepted, validated, created and promoted an impactful post for your website. Although this can have a positive impact on your search ranking, not all aspects of an effective SEO process can be completed in 45 minutes. The following are some key areas that weren’t covered in this exercise that we’d recommend exploring further.

SERP Ranking & Measurement

To understand how your SEO efforts are impacting your ranking, you need to conduct ongoing Search Engine Results Page (SERP) measurement. This helps you understand how you are rising or falling in the ranks. It’s usually recommended to use a third party tool (Such as SEMRush) to measure your SERP ranking, as it provides a more accurate indication of your performance.

Core Content

Your website has a key set of pages that help define who your company is and what they do. This is your core content, which has high visibility to new website visitors as it usually lives in your top navigation. Following a similar approach to our keyword research in Step 2, you can make adjustments to your core content to make them more SEO friendly.

Link Building

Although social media, email and direct promotion may provide some value to your overall SEO efforts, link building is a big part of making an impact on your SEO efforts. The higher amount of traffic you receive from high quality sites, the more authority your website will have. Proper link building requires a heavy amount of research, outreach and relationship building to be effective.


Levi Neuland

Vice President | Digital Marketing

SEO can be tough. Need some help getting started? Fill out the form below and get in touch!

SEO can be tough. Need some help getting started? Fill out the form below and get in touch!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Is your digital marketing falling behind?

Let us help - sign up and receive our free insights once a month.

Thanks! Please check your email to confirm your subscription!