SEO Best Practices for High Ranking Small Business

You’ve written an awesome blog post. You’ve picked the perfect title. Found some keywords that were almost made for you. And you hit that publish button full of excitement.

Then you sit back, relax and ride that magical wave of traffic…

For about two days.

And then, all of a sudden, it just drops off again: The dreaded down-time between posts

Then your post seems to be lost to the ether, never to be heard from again.

It doesn’t get any more views. It doesn’t drive you traffic months later. Heck, even you’ve probably forgotten about it.

So what’s the trick to getting constant traffic from all of your content, new and old?

Well, I can tell you it’s not writing better content or putting in more time and effort. The solution is, in fact, quite simple…

You need to get the right SEO strategy for your small business. All it takes is a little research and a few tips and tricks to start to outrank your competitors and steal their traffic (we wrote a little more on how about specific strategies to steal your competitors’ traffic as well.  Be sure to read our post on SEO for Startups as many of the strategies explained, will work for small and medium sized businesses.

In this article I’m going to show you how to turn all of your content into a search magnet, and become such a valuable resource that every piece:

  • Builds traffic
  • Generates new leads
  • Grows your audience

Without fail.

Sound good? Read on…

01: Create Accurate Content For Specific Queries

When you’re blogging you’re often given advice like:

  • “Write valuable content”
  • “Create epic content”
  • “Make your articles irresistible

Which is right. You should be creating content that your reader love.

But, from a search engine perspective, the words valuable, epic and irresistible don’t really mean anything. They aren’t tangible.

Google can’t have an emotional reaction to your content. It’s Crawlers can’t sit back and go, “Oh wow, that really changed my views on how you grind coffee”.

What it can do, though, is measure how accurate your content is. Which is why Google is always trying to create ways to rank content based on facts not opinions.

That’s why rich answers are now up to over 30% of the results for search terms:

Not sure what Rich Answers are? Well, they come in a couple of different forms. If you’re in a culinary niche, for example, when people search for specific content, they could show up like this:

What Ingredients Do You Need For Tomato Soup?

They’re informative ways for Google to provide the user with factual and accurate information in the shortest amount of time.

Now I’m not saying you need to prepare to become one of these rich content answers right now. As you’ll see in the next step, that may be a little beyond where you are right this minute.

But what is apparent with this continual growth in rich answers, combined with some of the patents Google has filed for recently, is that this type of content is becoming more and more important.

Okay, I can hear you asking, “What does that have to do with my blog though?”. So I’ll tell you…

You need to start creating content around the questions people are asking in your industry.

Instead of approaching content from the view of, “What do I want to write?” or “What does my business want to say?”, you need to look at like this:

“What are the questions my audience needs answers to?”

The more specific you can get with those answers, the more likely you are to rank well.

Finding these questions isn’t particularly hard, either. People tend to be quite open in asking for advice on the internet, which is great news for you.

Here are a few places you can look:

Quora is the place to go to ask questions on the internet now. And, chances are, someone from your audience is asking a representative question there. Quora can also be an important part of our company’s content amplification process.

Take a look at this page about SEO Strategy: Quick search, lots of content

In the time it took to write “SEO Strategy” I was able to find four potential topics that could be used on the CanIRank blog. And, if you were to spend 10-15 minutes looking through the pages, you’d be able to find even more.

It may take a little keyword research to get these pieces down to a specific query, but straight away you’re building content you know your audience needs and is searching for.

Competitor Blog Comments

You can sift through the comments on competitors blogs and see the pressing issues they’re asking about: Should probably respond to this one myself…

Forums

And last (but not least) Forums in your niche can be a hotbed of queries, search terms and straight up questions people are asking…

How To Easily Find Questions Related To Your Keyword

CanIRank’s Promote my Content tool is mainly used to help you find quality link building opportunities.

But it also works great as an easy, automated way to come up with popular questions in your niche.

Just enter your target keyword and select your strategy:

  • Q&A
  • Forum
  • Fresh (recently written content)
  • Bloggers

Hit the ‘Generate’ button and CanIRank will search for new popular content on Q&A sites, forums, and blogs, scoring each opportunity according to relevancy and authority:

02: Go Niche (Like, Really Niche) For Your Keywords

We’ve written before about the importance of starting off in a small pond.

It can help you drive consistent, targeted, traffic from Google. And establish yourself as an authority page for these more niche queries.

Hang on a second, though. Because I’m about to do something really spooky. I’m going to read your mind…

When you’re SEO-ing your blog posts, you follow these exact three steps:

  1. You use the Yoast SEO plugin
  2. You AdWords Keyword Planner to find high search volume keywords like, “translation services”
  3. You work them into your post where you can and hope for the best

How did I know? Because I must have spent oh, I don’t know…about a year doing exactly the same.

What you don’t consider when you’re doing this is something that’s almost, “Well, duh!” once you realise it:

Everyone is trying to rank for these keywords.

Yikes! It’s pretty apparent we’re not yet ready to compete with the big guys targeting “SEO”.

Because, if nothing else, every other small business blogger out there is following those exact same steps. And experience should have taught you that doing what everyone else is doing is a recipe for failure.

That’s doubly true when you’re smaller and less well established than your competitors. So what can you do with your small business blog to ensure that your posts end up ranking?

The goal is to keep drilling down to more and more specific keywords until you find one where your site is competitive. Luckily, CanIRank’s keyword difficulty is the best on the market currently.

Even larger blogs can benefit from this approach. Back in March, Neil Patel ended a year long experiment where he changed the keywords for his blog posts to long tail keywords. The results? He managed to increase his search traffic by 91%.

Instead of fighting for rankings against every other piece of content – and the authorities that were producing it – he could put his content out there in front of an entirely new audience. Who, although smaller, were no less engaged or interested in his content. They just have different search habits.

But what does this mean for your small business blog?

It means you need to look at how you can narrow down the keywords you use for your content, and make them even more niche.

Sounds simple enough, but how do you find that sweet spot? Those “golden keywords” that will generate as much traffic as possible, without being too competitive for your blog?

In the old days, we used to have to experiment with writing a lot of posts. Some were too ambitious and never ranked highly enough to drive traffic. Others were too long tail, and made it to page 1 but never sent traffic because not enough people were searching that term.

Thankfully, those days are over!

Now, we can use CanIRank’s Grow my Content tool to calculate the SEO ROI for any keyword in just one click. Here’s how the process works:

Step 1: Analyze your “dream keyword”

Hey, we’d love to rank for the keyword “SEO”… But it’s just too competitive for our blog right now.

Step 2: Get suggestions for easier related keywords

Down one level in specificity (and competitiveness), let’s try analyzing a few of these…

Step 3: Repeat until you find a Ranking Probability > 75%

Eventually we find a sweet spot that offers good traffic and an achievable ranking difficulty.

03: Build Internal Links To Your Content

Internal Linking is something I see small business bloggers neglecting all the time.

But, according to Kissmetrics, it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce your bounce rates and keep people on your site for longer. And, it can improve your overall site (and page) authority.

They’re definitely things you want to take advantage of to boost your search traffic. An SEO silo tells search engines that you have a well-structured site focused on a specific topic, which means you’re a resource worthy of display in search results.

Firstly, if you’re not sure what Internal Linking is, let me give you quick rundown. It’s super simple…

Recently we wrote this post about Growth Hacking. And, in it, we made a point about networking with influencers. Now, we already had a piece of content about networking, so we used it to back up that point:

Internal linking. It’s that simple.

That, my friend, is internal linking.

Now what is it that makes the effective for building traffic, though?

In short, you make life much easier for Google.

When Google sends crawlers through your site, it wants to find the relevant pages. It’s dying to find them. But all the keyword research and copywriting hacks in the world don’t matter if they can’t get to the content in the first place.

By internal linking you give those crawlers more ways to access that content. A basic way of looking at it is, the more relevant that content is to the piece you’ve written, the more authority those pages get. In fact, the best ecommerce SEO experts have identified internal linking as the top strategy to boost site relevancy.

According to Moz, the perfect layout for a site in the eyes of a crawler is this:

The site structure crawlers crave.

Because there are fewer barriers between getting onto the site, and finding the most relevant content. Now, while this may (or may not) be in your control, by creating these internal links you can at least make your content easier to find.

Okay, so that’s the first reason you need to do it for Google. The next one is a little more specific, and something you have probably never considered.

Your bounce rate can play a big role in where you rank in Google. When people come to your page and leave within the first couple of seconds, it doesn’t look good in their eyes. So by having internal links to:

  • Relevant content
  • Glossary/Industry term pages
  • Product and service pages

Can improve your bounce rate because people are more likely to go through your site and spend longer looking around to get their answers.

But, as a small business blog, a lot of your traffic will be driven from local or really niche searches. Which means that personalisation plays a big factor for you.

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