Articles optimized for search engines are like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for digital marketers.
You just can’t have enough of them (and for good reason as well).
As search engines are still the most important traffic source for most niche websites, and a place at the top of Google’s 1st page for the right keywords can still result in hundreds or thousands of visitors.
With new search algorithm updates every few months, Google is constantly enhancing the way it operates and helps users find the most relevant search results for their queries.
For example, Google recently announced Penguin as a part of their core search algorithm.
This can potentially have a huge impact on search results in the coming days and months.
As a niche marketer, you need to keep a close eye on the evolution of Google search and how it impacts your business.
To make your job easier, here a few SEO tips that’ll help you drive additional traffic from search engines.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 220 profitable buyer keywords click here or the image below)
1.Use Responsive Design and AMP to Optimize for Mobile Users
More than 50% of all search queries now originate from mobile devices.
Last year Google included mobile compatibility, as one of the key user experience factors, to its search ranking algorithm and elevated the websites, which complied with its mobile-friendly guidelines, in mobile search results.
Earlier this year, Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a new initiative to help webmasters create faster mobile websites that are instantly available to users and much easier to navigate (just like Facebook instant articles).
In short, everything is moving towards mobile platforms, and Google isn’t sitting back.
And even though last year’s Mobilegeddon update didn’t cause a drastic change to search rankings, it will certainly be a key ranking factor in the coming years.
So what exactly should you do to protect your niche website from any potential ranking dip?
- Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see if your blog is mobile compatible. If it’s not, switch to a responsive blog theme immediately.
- The opinion is divided whether bloggers should adopt AMP right now or wait for the dust to settle down. If you want to go for it, just enable AMP on your blog by using the official WordPress plugin. Social Media Examiner did a really informative podcast on how bloggers should use AMP. You can check it out here.
A major chunk of your blog readers comes from mobile devices, and it’s only going to grow in the coming years.
So make sure your blog is ready to serve them.
2. Optimize for Google Rich Answers to Drive Additional Traffic
You’ve seen Google Rich Answers right?
The boxed answer that appears on top of Google’s search results when your query is a question.
It has been around for a while, but marketers are now truly understanding its potential.
Making it to the rich answers box for a high traffic keyword can result in thousands of additional visitors.
But that’s not the only benefit.
Studies suggest that Google shows rich answers more frequently for voice searches as compared to text queries.
And every voice result starts with a brand name reference to the source site.
For example, if NicheHacks makes it to the rich answers snippet, the voice result will start like this
“According to NicheHacks……”
A huge branding opportunity!
Source: Link Assistant Blog
Over 50% of US teens and 41% of US adults use voice search every day.
So the rich answers snippet can prove to be a traffic goldmine in the coming years.
But here’s the real question.
How do you make it to the featured rich answers box?
Convince & Convert ran an experiment to find out just that and here’s what their study found.
- Pages on your website that are already in the top 10 results have a much higher chance of making it to the featured answers box.
- There’s already too much competition for common questions, so the real opportunity lies in going niche.
- Identify the questions your audience is asking and create content that clearly answers them.
The structure of your content is the key.
Mention the question in the heading or a subheading on your page and answer it in clear terms in the body text.
It can be in the form of bulleted points or a single passage.
For example, here’s the answer I got when I searched for “What is internet marketing”.
When I clicked the source page, this is what I found
Ultimately, Google’s algorithms decide which results to feature in the rich answers box.
But if your site has a few high ranking pages, try refining the content structure to give it the best possible chance of making it to featured answers.
3. Refine Your Website Copy to Boost User Engagement
Dwell time, the time a user spends on your site reading and exploring content, is a quality signal Google uses in its search algorithms.
Google’s search algorithm elevates the pages with higher dwell time as it indicates that searchers are finding them valuable.
So the longer a user stays on a page, the better it is for its ranking.
And refining and optimizing your website copy is one of the best ways to keep readers longer on your site.
To be more specific here’s what you need to do to keep readers longer
- Write clear, compelling and eye-catching headlines for your blog posts. James has already written a mammoth step by step guide on this topic.
- Use simple, clear and easy to understand words that clearly communicate your message. Chelsea wrote this super actionable post that’ll help you immediately improve this aspect of your website copy.
- Use short paragraphs, short sentences and lots of sub-headings.
- Write in a conversational tone and frequently use words that speak directly to the reader, e.g. You, I, Me.
- Use keywords in your content that are immediately recognizable to your audience.
I have covered this topic in much greater detail in my previous post for NicheHacks.
You can read it here.
4. Create Long, In-depth and Insanely Actionable Content to Outrank Competitors
Longer articles and blog posts consistently outrank the shorter ones.
I know you’ve been hearing this for a few years now.
But recent studies suggest that this argument is still pretty much valid.
Brian Dean and his team analyzed more than 1 million Google Search results to find out the different factors that impact SEO and search rankings.
They found that longer content ranks significantly better than shorter content.
They also found that the average length of a Google first page result is 1890 words.
There are a number of reasons for this.
- Studies show that longer content tends to attract more backlinks which results in higher ranking.
- Longer content helps to rank for a variety of long-tail keywords.
- Longer content usually includes several synonyms and closely related terms of the main keyword.
- (LSI keywords) which helps it rank higher.
- Longer content gets more social shares which results in stronger social signals.
But there are two ways to create long form content – the right way and the wrong way (sorry I couldn’t think of any titles for them)
The wrong way is what most people do.
They keep on adding meaningless words to their articles until the word count reaches 2000.
They do this because they think the length of their content alone will take them ahead of their competitors.
They’re obviously wrong.
Long-form content works well only when you have so much knowledge to share that 2000 words aren’t enough (the right way)
And to do that, you need to change your content style from “telling people what to do” to “here’s how it’s done”.
Make your content insanely actionable and detailed. Use extensive research and data-evidence to back your arguments, and use snapshots and images to explain your points
SmartBlogger is known for regularly publishing blog post of 2000-3000+ word.
Their editorial guidelines page helps writers think of long-form content the right way.
Longer, actionable and authoritative blog posts also help you earn backlinks from other authoritative sites.
People willingly use such posts as a reference to back their points.
And, of course, more backlinks means higher rankings.
5. Focus on Link Relevance, Not Just Authority
Backlinks fuel search rankings, that’s no secret.
But that doesn’t mean you can build dozens of backlinks without considering the authority and relevance of the linking domain.
Irrelevant backlinks are not only useless for your rankings but can also get you into trouble with Google algorithms.
This is precisely why Matt Cutts asked guest bloggers to practice caution a few years ago, and that’s exactly the kind of links Google’s Penguin update targeted.
So building links for a health and fitness website on a pet store blog with a really high domain authority is not such a great idea anymore.
Instead, focus on blogs that are relevant to your niche.
Relevancy trumps authority because Google wants links to be created naturally.
They need to fit well with the overall theme of a website.
So a relevant backlink from a low DA blog is much better than an irrelevant and out of context link from a high DA website.
6. Build, Grow and Leverage Relationships to Power Your SEO Strategy
Do you know the biggest asset of any niche marketer?
It’s not content, it’s not traffic and it’s certainly not money.
It’s the number and the quality of relevant relationships in his niche and other closely related niches.
Ever since black hat SEO died (it’s barely alive), smart SEO’s turned their attention towards building real relationships.
Because when you’re friends with influencers in your niche getting links, social shares, and endorsements is never a problem.
Darren Rowse (ProBlogger) and Brian Clark (Copyblogger) are perfect examples of this.
Problogger is a six-figure earning blog while Copyblogger is now a multi-million dollar company.
Both Darren and Brian used their relationship to help each other’s businesses grow by regularly mentioning and linking to each other’s content.
Here’ an example from the early days of Problogger
Brian returned the favor by featuring Problogger and Digital Photography School, both Darren’s companies, on his blog.
This didn’t happen by accident, it was a well thought out strategy that both these blogs followed for the first 6-7 years of their businesses.
Jon Morrow (Smartblogger) did the same when he left Copyblogger to start BoostBlogTraffic.
Glen Alsop (ViperChill) even advocated using Private Influencer Networks (PINs) to grow new blogs and websites
“I define a Private Influencer Network as a group of people looking to rank their websites in Google in similar industries (but not the same) who work together to help each other reach their objectives.
Essentially, they use any opportunities they have to build links (such as private blog networks, guest blogging, interviews, blogger round-ups) to send backlinks to other people in their network. In return, other people do the same for them.
The end result is that for the work you would do to build ten backlinks, you can get twenty to forty (of the same quality) in return.”
The idea might sound new to you but, as the examples above suggest, it has been around for over a decade.
So how do you start building such relationships?
Christopher did this detailed step by step relationship building guide to answer just that.
But let me share some quick advice as well
- Identify the blogs that are closely related to your niche.
- Find the owner’s email address on their contact page or by using EmailHunter.co
- Follow them on Twitter.
- Regularly Tweet their new blog posts (automate the process by using IFTTT).
- Write insightful comments on their blogs (James wrote this detailed guide on blog commenting just for you).
- Be patient and don’t ask for favors immediately.
Relationship building is an on-going process.
But it not only helps you gain backlinks, social shares, and traffic in the long run but also makes you less dependent on Google.
7. Regularly Update and Relaunch Old Content for More Traffic
If you’ve been blogging for some time, I’m sure you have several high-quality posts rotting in your blog archives.
Because unless they’re ranking for a high traffic keyword, most blog posts receive little traffic 1-2 weeks after publishing.
Updating and republishing such posts is an easy way to keep them alive.
It not only gives your new readers an opportunity to read your old content but also has a positive impact on the search ranking of that particular blog post, since content freshness is an important ranking factor.
Michael Hyatt, Brain Dean, Neil Patel and many others do this all the time.
So how do you update old content and make it look relevant even years after being publishing it?
- Identify the best performing evergreen posts on your blog. You can do that easily by going to your Google Analytics account and sorting posts by all-time pages views.
- Only shortlist every-green posts that are still relevant today. For example, “The Ultimate Guide to Google Authorship” is not a good choice since it’s not a relevant topic anymore. “The Ultimate Guide to Branding”, on the other hand, looks perfect since the principles of branding are still the same.
- Open the post in WordPress editor, update any outdated facts and figures, add new snapshots or images and add 1-2 new paragraphs of fresh content.
- Update and republish the post by changing the publish date in WordPress.
Update the publishing date.
This post will now appear in the latest posts and will be visible to your new blog visitors.
Share it with your email subscribers and social media followers for more exposure and traffic.
To display “last updated date” instead of the original publishing date, use this free plugin.
Displaying the last updated date on your blog posts gives your readers an idea about its freshness and relevancy.
So frequent updates to your existing content are not only good for your search rankings, but also for the user experience on your blog.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 220 profitable buyer keywords click here or the image below)
Is Your Niche Site Evolving With SEO?
As I said earlier, Google is constantly changing its algorithm and evolving as a search engine.
SEO techniques that were universally accepted best practices a few years ago are now considered unnatural and spammy (hint: optimized anchor text).
So the only way to stay out of trouble with Google is to build the foundation of your SEO strategy on high-quality content, user engagement and strong relationships in your niche.
Have you implemented any of these tips to your SEO strategy?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.