Was chatting to the founder of one of the UK’s largest digital marketing agencies last week.
He’s been doing SEO for +15 years now for all types of businesses, including the likes of Apple, Penguin, Happy Beds, and Pizza Express.
I took the opportunity to grill him on SEO so I could share his tips. It’s a weird one because SEO seems like a basic marketing skill, but the deeper I dive, the more complex I realised it gets.
Doesn’t help that Google doesn’t have an incentive to tell you exactly what they want…
Here are a few things I think entrepreneurs and marketers need to know from the interview:
Three wins to improve your search engine ranking
Analyse your content (homepage through to blog posts) and optimise each one for a different keyword. If two of your pages are optimised for the same keyword Google down ranks them both because it’s confused at which one is most relevant. We often see this when, for one keyword, the same website has the ranking position one after the other (e.g. position 12 and 13). If this is the case, choose the most important one and optimise the other for a different keyword—instant increase.
Understand that Google is a popularity contest.
SEO is not just about what’s on your website. It’s also important that other websites tell Google that your website is credible, engaging, and worthy of a higher rank. Popularity = more sites linking to you = proof that others consider it valuable for their visitors.
The source of the links should be the most relevant and authoritative that you can get. The more popular (Read: authoritative) those that link to you are, the better (the BBC is the holy grail here—tough to get a link from and one of the worlds most trusted news sources). The more relevant the site is to your niche, the better because it signals that they know what their stuff.
Structure your content: cornerstone content and content hubs.
The theory behind these is too much to write in one post, so I’ll describe the approach briefly (Note: it is worth researching, and I plan to summarise the research I’ve been doing soon. Sign up below to make sure you see it).
Cornerstone content pieces are the important ones, the long ones, and the most powerful ones. These are your ‘ultimate guide to X’ type articles. You should optimise cornerstone content for the most competitive and important keywords, and you should tell Google the content is important by building an internal link structure which directs visitors towards it. It’s a powerful strategy because one great article concentrates links towards it (onsite and offsite), helping the page rank highly in Google.
Content hubs: a ‘hub’ of content that addresses the various long-tail keywords that people are searching for in your niche. Imagine that you run a SaaS marketing agency, you may want to create a killer cornerstone article called ‘the ultimate guide to SaaS marketing’ to rank for the keyword ‘SaaS marketing’. Now, it’s hard to go into depth on every topic in that ‘ultimate guide’, but you could do a series of follow up articles that deep dive the points in further depth. Those articles could be ‘Using SEO in SaaS marketing’ and ‘Social media SaaS marketing’. These will create a ‘hub’ around the topic of SaaS marketing, establishing YOU as an authority in this space.
Bonus: The inescapable truth
The full podcast has a lot more insight, which is summarised here (no adverts!).
If you’re interested, I’m emailing out an ‘insight summary’ based on a new interview once a week, and you can sign up here.