When people ask about good techniques for improving SEO I like to share the story about a real estate company that came to me after being hounded by dozens of people offering SEO quick fixes. They felt overwhelmed and generally skeptical of the services that were pitched. Together we implemented an honest SEO strategy that brought the client to top 3 positions for over 50 relevant and targeted search terms in their industry and grew one targeted and very lucrative real estate market segment from 2% market share to 25% market share in a single year.
We did it by taking an honest approach to SEO with these three techniques and one extra bit of advice:
1) Create Value with Content
We started the process by grounding our efforts in the belief that our goal was to create value for our customers. We built personas, identified their pain points, researched their search habits and most importantly, determined what they needed from us to make their lives easier. From this initial research, we built a long-term strategy to create content and organize information on our site that visitors would find valuable, useful and engaging. We also used this data to craft business goals that would flow from our content goal, but the content creation priority was to offer valuable content for our visitors, not to force conversions.
2) Build a Content Strategy
We reorganized current content on the site to reflect people’s search habits for homes. In the end, we decided to create specialized landing pages with targeted messages and segmented search capabilities that were based on the way people look for homes in a neighborhood-centric city.
We coordinated a team of writers to create regularly occurring content on a blog built to add more value for site visitors. Content concepts included highlighting things to do for each weekend in various neighborhoods and features on restaurants and businesses. Every post was written to add value and encourage natural link sharing.
Once enough content had been produced we began sharing it through social media and via our email list. All of these efforts were coordinated on a content calendar. In short, we created a plan matched to the resources we had to carry it out.
3) Measure and Analyze Goals
Essential to the success of any content marketing strategy is setting up a strong evaluation system. The first step is to set up and test Google Analytics to make sure it is running correctly. In our case, the site was also set up to capture leads when visitors were looking for more information. Those leads flowed into a CRM system and we worked backward to calculate the value of leads that came in through the website. This gave us a clear picture of how visitors responded to each piece of content.
Landing pages helped convert and blog posts helped engage, inform and create a good impression. Every form of content had its role in the customer experience and we were able to measure its value with a smart Google Analytics set up.
Bonus tip: Don’t take SEO shortcuts
“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” – Google Webmaster Guidelines
If you try to game Google’s algorithm, you end up like everyone else who panics at the next update: bewildered and ineffective. Google continually updates its algorithms in order to get better at helping people find precisely what they are looking for NOT to provoke a game of cat and mouse. If you do not share this goal, you will not win the trust of your customers, you will not add value to their lives and you will be spending more time and money trying to score some easy points when you could be winning the long game.