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Everyone would love to acquire more traffic for their sales funnels without paying a single cent. This is particularly true for those just starting out who lack substantial funds to invest in Google AdSense, Facebook Ads, or other forms of effective but costly advertising.
Whether you’re new to the game or looking to optimize existing content, it is possible to substantially increase your search traffic in just 30 days without paying for it. There’s no secret trick to doing it — just good, old-fashioned search engine optimization (SEO). If that has you heading for the door, wait! SEO definitely doesn’t have to be a hassle.
Here’s how to use the best free tools available for SEO so you can focus on generating traffic and closing sales, without getting caught up in complex webs of search terms and algorithms. As promised, this won’t take months or even years — just 30 days.
The Importance of Search Engine Optimization
I hear it all the time: SEO takes forever. I won’t lie; it can take a while. The problem is that there are too many people out there who build up their content, get very little search traffic, and conclude that SEO doesn’t really work or even matter.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s like building a brick-and-mortar store, having people peer in through the windows and then thinking that, as people are passing by but not coming in, there’s no real reason to work on your window display or interior design.
It sounds absurd when equated to the real world, but that’s precisely what not focusing on SEO does — it neglects the ability of the content that you already have to bring in more people.
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Where Everyone Goes Wrong with SEO
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve looked at guides on SEO and it’s really complicated. It involves a lot of data research, and anyone worth their salt has told you that it will take a very long time to perfect.
Those who don’t give up right away might pepper in some keywords that make perfectly good sense, not see results, and go back to what they do best: creating content and turning leads into sales. After all, the alternative is investing a small fortune in an SEO agency or SEO tools, right?
The Importance of Using Tools
At best, most people will perform a Google search for something like “keyword generator.” Not knowing how to judge the results that pop up — and there are tons of results — they will simply pick one from the first page, pop in a relevant term, and stick some of the results in their copy.
Based on such a Google search, one would be led to think that most tools do essentially the same thing and wading through the sea of articles promising to perform SEO miracles to understand how they work is not an appealing prospect.
However, there are actually really useful tools available (for free!) that can produce dramatic results with very little effort if you understand how to use them.
Discover more short video tutorials on SEO on our YouTube channel!
Strategizing with Basic Tools
Everything I’m going to talk about here involves free tools. If you’re not familiar with them, I’ll do a quick overview, but you should certainly read up on them separately.
Google Search Console
The first tool we’re using, you should be familiar with: Google Search Console. If not, you need to sign up and become acquainted right away, as it is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal for understanding how traffic reaches you.
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, the Search Console provides a wealth of features for free. However, I’ll be focusing on simply looking at your traffic reports.
Once you’re in your traffic reports, look at the pages that are getting the most search traffic. Click on these pages and you will see the main keywords driving traffic to that page. Save this information — we’ll be using it elsewhere.
Learn more in this 6-minute video “How to Increase Your Organic Traffic with Google Search Console”:
Google Suggest or Alternatives
You don’t need to use Keyword Tool, but it’s very popular and also free:
What you’re going to do is put the keywords you gathered from the Google Search Console into these tools. You’re not looking for more keywords; you’re looking for the long-tail versions of your existing keywords.
What’s the difference? Short keywords would be a term like “cat pictures.” A long-tail keyword would be “cute pictures of cats playing outside.”
How Do Long-Tail Keywords Work?
There’s a very important distinction here that many people do not understand. Obviously, the term “cat pictures” is going to draw a lot more traffic than something highly specific. However, achieving a good rank for cat pictures is incredibly difficult, but “cute pictures of cats playing outside” is much easier.If a long-tail keyword only offers 5% of the traffic, but that 5% is easy to achieve, you need to realize that it is a highly targeted figure that will lead to more conversions. Click To Tweet
After all, we know that these people are specifically looking for cute pictures of cats playing outside. If this corresponds to your content, you’re golden.
All too often, those inexperienced in the world of SEO see that these long-tail keywords produce little relative traffic but they don’t understand that it’s traffic that’s incredibly easy to get that will lead to many more conversions.
Long-Tail Keywords in Long-Term Strategies
As you build traffic for your long-tail keywords, you’re chipping away at the shorter keywords. While you can enjoy the increased traffic of cute pictures of cats playing outside almost right away, you’re also associating your site in search engine algorithms with cat pictures in a way that would be much more difficult to do head-on.
Of course, this is where your SEO strategy goes from 30 days to months and years — but you don’t need to wait that long to see results.
Implementing Long-Tail Keywords
The important thing to remember here is that you’re not just sticking every long-tail keyword into your copy and hoping for the best (this is known as keyword stuffing). In fact, search engine algorithms do a pretty good job of weeding out suspicious copy that uses keyword stuffing.
This means that to increase traffic, you should be sure that your copy not only is grammatically correct but also sounds natural. A common thing you’ll encounter is keyword strings that don’t make sense themselves, such as “pictures cats playing outside.” That’s because people often search for relevant words only and leave out words like “of.” You can include words such as “in” or “of” in your copy, but just be sure to stick to conjunctions and articles.
As with any link you use to other sites, you also need to be sure you’re not using keywords that don’t correspond to your site. Just because they’re suggested doesn’t mean they make sense or fit. You wouldn’t want to include “pictures of Catherine playing outside,” which is a perfectly reasonable suggestion for a smart keyword tool to offer, since “cat” can refer to a feline or be a nickname for Catherine. Context is critical.
- The Content Marketer’s Guide to Keyword Research
- Quality Over Quantity: The Balance of Keyword Usage
- The Best Way to Track Your Keyword Rankings: An SEO Expert’s Strategy
- 3 Things We’ve Learned From Ranking For Competitive Keywords With Viral Traffic
Case Study: Single Grain
Using this exact same process earlier this year, I was able to grow traffic substantially, and it continues to grow by 20% month over month. Bear in mind, this is in the highly competitive niche of online marketing. If I can achieve this level of growth in the online marketing sphere, you should have no trouble achieving results this good or even greater (unless maybe you really are dealing in cute cat pictures, which is probably more competitive than online marketing).
A Way Forward
Before you think I’m making this sound too easy, understand that it takes some work to understand how to best fit long-tail keywords into your copy. Remember, you’ll also be doing this, ideally, for every bit of copy that you produce.
Thankfully, when working with Single Grain, we found a process to integrate keywords into existing copy that mitigates the keyword stuffing problem while also providing readers with better value.
It’s called the Content Reusage Workflow. We didn’t invent the process — it was created by Aleyda Solis, an SEO expert. Her entire process is simple to follow and covers more than just updating copy for long-tail keywords, but a simple flowchart distills what you need for this use case in a very easy-to-use manner:
Updating Content with Long-Tail Keywords
What we’ve done at Single Grain is incredibly simple and can be done by anyone. Simply follow the flowchart referenced above for each article. Whenever you need to do any of the steps in the flow chart — refocus, curate, reformat, expand or update — you have an opportunity to add keywords.
Compared to simply taking your existing copy and trying to fit in new words, this rewriting process enables you to solve two problems simultaneously, opening the door for more natural ways to incorporate keywords.
Best of all, you’re not only adding the keywords, but you’re optimizing the content itself. That is, you’re refocusing, curating, reformatting, expanding and updating your content to better position it against the competition, which ultimately provides better value and means that potential customers not only find your page, but find it valuable.
Of course, you still have to do the work, but the hardest part has been distilled to a single “yes or no” process, and you’ll be backed by a sense of purpose in what you’re doing since what drove you to update your content has meaning beyond simply getting more traffic.
We use this all the time now at Single Grain, which is why we have been able to see such incredible gains over the last year. Combining knowledge with solid methodology is critical, and the flowchart provided is the easiest way to do that.
Ultimately, it’s all about providing value. Search engines might use complex algorithms to filter search results, and when it comes to SEO, we might find new and innovative ways to leverage those algorithms to our advantage. However, we have to keep in mind that the reason those algorithms are there, and the reason why the companies that employ them are so successful, is that they provide value.
Search engines bring relevant results. It’s as simple as that. Your content has to be relevant. The job of a search engine is to weed out anything that isn’t relevant, or anything that tries to trick the system. They’re pretty good at that and getting better all the time.
Like with blog traffic and other social media traffic, it’s critical to be sure that your content exists as a microcosm of the same principles to maximize search engine traffic. There are billions of people surfing the Internet, and no matter what you’re offering, there are potential customers for it. Rather than try to widen your net and attract as many of those surfers as possible, you need to focus on targeting correctly.
For example, if we really wanted to, we could have this article bring in tons of views related to cat pictures, simply because of the number of times those relevant keywords are mentioned. However, it wouldn’t make sense for me to stuff the article with other long-tail versions of these keywords, like “pictures of cats eating,” because my target audience isn’t looking for that.
Of course, this is a ridiculous example, but it’s to illustrate a point: whatever you’re selling, the keywords you use and how you use them must stay relevant. If we had visitors here who were interested in cat pictures, the increased traffic means nothing. If you’re a graphic designer who doesn’t offer website design, it makes absolutely no sense to include keywords for it.
- How to Optimize Your Brand for Search Engines
- Cracking Amazon’s A9 Algorithm: Increase Your Amazon Ranking to Sell More
- The #1 Marketing Strategy for 2019: The Content Sprout Method
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the point of search engines is to make life easier for customers. Most likely, your product does the same thing in one way or another. By using the tools we’ve outlined to refine this mission, you will develop deep, profitable relationships. Fake it and you’ll get nowhere.
In that regard, using SEO to drive traffic is simply a matter of combining intelligent and modern methods with the same business principles you would follow anywhere else.
Check out the Marketing School Podcast episode: How to Get More Search Traffic in 30 Days (Without Paying for It)