How Startups Are Getting SEO Wrong — And What You Should Be Doing Instead

We’re all well-aware of the importance of SEO. In fact, most companies center their digital marketing efforts around it. But you can’t post a bunch of optimized content right out of the gate and expect to come out on top. As mounds of web content pile up, search engines have learned to value consistency along with quality. Climbing search engines rankings takes time, effort, and a whole lot of patience.

So don’t let your efforts go to waste by going about SEO haphazardly. Here are 5 tips to post top-quality SEO content and get impressive results. 

1. Focus on transactional content

When you first begin posting your SEO content, you won’t get much traffic from truly cold leads. Most, if not all, of your visitors will be individuals who have already been in contact with your business or heard about it. This means they are exploring your content to get a better understanding of your knowledge and experience in their industry. Overall, they want to determine if you have a solution that is the right fit for their needs. 

Rather than starting your SEO efforts with an SEO-friendly blog post, open with something that helps those warm leads get in touch with your sales team or purchase your product. Clear information and simple calls to action will subtly direct your leads to the next step without sounding too “salesy.” 

2. Focus on long-form content

You’ve probably heard that you should keep blog posts short, 600–800 words, so readers can skim the article in under 5 minutes. The reality is that search engines value longer content, in the neighborhood of 1300 words. While it may take readers a little longer to read, quality content will be more informative, more engaging, and more likely to keep them reading. Overall, long-form content is also better for SEO purposes. Here’s why:

  • More keywords: The longer the piece the greater opportunity you have to use the top traffic-driving keywords you want to target. Additionally, mixing and matching those keywords in various ways, allows search engines to find your content more frequently when users are searching by variable phrases.

  • More detail: With long-form content, you can explore your subject in greater depth and provide higher quality information. This will engage readers, rather than letting them bounce, and perhaps even encourage them to share your content with others. These results move your content higher in the rankings, more readers see your content, and the circle spirals you upward.

  • More conversion: As you provide more detail, you can demonstrate how your products or services provide the solution to the issue the reader is researching. Followed by a subtle CTA, the reader now has an easy path to contact your sales team or purchase your products. Once again, higher conversion rates improve SEO rankings and the spiral continues toward page 1.

3. Focus on quality content

As competition builds online, high-quality content has become a necessity to raise your SEO ranking. Consistency is important, but don’t waste time flooding Google with mediocre content. You can post hundreds of articles, but if they all land on page 8, they’re useless to you. Quality should always be your top priority, even if you post only one or two pieces of content in a week. Quality also increases the likelihood of others backlinking to your content, which in turn lifts your SEO ranking. 


But talking about quality content is much easier than actually doing it. Here are a few attributes of quality content to aim for as you write:


  • Add value: Your content must be useful to your target audience. Try to give easy to understand answers to common questions and workable solutions to typical problems within your subject matter. Even if it’s small, provide an action step for readers to try out and see a result.

  • Add visuals: Don’t rely on words alone. Use engaging images, graphs, and other visuals to capture the reader’s attention and make the topic easier to understand.

  • Optimize it: Research and include your top performing keywords and key phrases, format the content properly, and use meta-tags to optimize your content for search engines.

  • Be link-worthy: Conduct research, publish white papers, and make your content as in-depth and informative as possible. You know your content is of quality when others start linking to it — and Google knows it too.

  • Encourage action: Your content will be no good to you if it doesn’t help convert leads into sales. Include subtle, non-salesy CTAs within the post so readers know what products or services you offer and how easy it is for them to purchase or contact you.

  • Make it shareable: Not only should you share your content on different platforms, but you should also make it easy for others to do the same. Add social media share links to all the content you post on your website.

4. Focus on backlinks

Search engines love backlinks. If more users are sharing the link to your website, Google knows your content must be a source of quality, authoritative information. 

But you don’t have to wait around for others to backlink to your content; you can do it yourself with the help of guest blogging. A simple search for blogs that cater to your industry will locate numerous sites that have high readership and accept guest posts. Contact them to request their submission guidelines and confirm your topic fits their format and readership. Also be sure to read their formatting guidelines carefully, specifically the part about links. Most blogs have a rigorous editorial process and will reject content that doesn’t follow their guidelines. 

5. Focus on monitoring

Measuring the effectiveness of your efforts is a vital component of any marketing plan. If something isn’t working, change it. If something is getting good results, scale up. Here are some standard Key Performance Indicators to help you evaluate your SEO content: 

  • Traffic: How many visitors are coming to your blog content from a search engine? How many are coming from another page on your website? How many are coming from some other link to your content?

  • Bounce rate: How long are visitors staying on your content page? Do they stay a few seconds and leave your site entirely? Do they stay long enough to read your article and navigate to another page?

  • Conversion rate: Do visitors read your content and leave or do they contact your sales team or make a purchase?

  • Keywords: Study Google AdWords and other keyword tools. What are your highest performing keywords and phrases?

These are very basic questions to get you started on understanding the effectiveness of your SEO content. If you don’t know how to find answers to these questions, or you don’t know what to do with the answers you find, a pro digital marketing agency can be an invaluable expenditure to help push you to the next level.

Final Thought

Writing SEO content can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. If you’re not a writer, hire one. Many skilled writers can be found through freelance writing websites and agencies. For a fair price, you can provide the information and the outline, and the writer will return to you a quality article. 

Get familiar with SEO, learn what works and what doesn’t. With diligence and patience, the search engines will do the work for you as you gain momentum and climb the ranks.

Shoot me a note if you're interested in talking more about your SEO strategy.


How often should I publish blogs?

I hope you're ready, because I've got the one, singular, ultimate answer to the question of "How often should I publish blogs?" — the question that's being keyword stuffed and searched across the depths of the Internet:

It depends.

Unfortunately, there is no clear, exact number. Some companies publish blog posts multiple times a day, some publish once a month (or less), and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to why one performs better than the other.

It all comes down to what works for you, how you're funneling customers and turning them into leads, and what your goals are.

Here's what to consider:

Blogging takes (a lot) of time

You've got grand dreams of posting two blogs every day. Great! Not the bad news: That's basically a full-time job.

If you're creating original content (which you should), it takes a lot of time and effort to put together a high-quality post, even if it's just 600 words.

Is this where you really want to be putting all your daily effort?

Google values freshness

The fact is, the powers that be (cough cough, Google) value fresh content. But, that doesn't mean you have to create new content each and every day.

Weekly posts can provide just as much value as daily posts from an SEO perspective. And, there is some evidence that updating older pages with fresh content is actually a better approach than creating new content.

If you have a post that's already been linked to a bunch and is already performing well, capitalize on it. You can simply update it with fresh statistics or some new insights. That will ensure it continues to perform well long-term.

So yes, you want new, original content flowing in steadily, but that doesn't translate to daily new posts.

Home in on topics that matter to your audience

Always wanted to do a roundup of the day's news with your commentary? No offense, but you're the only one who wants to hear it.

Think about your product and your goals, and craft topics that make sense from there. News is almost never going to be something that actually helps you achieve your goals. Thought leadership, knowledge sharing and unique points of view offer the type of knowledge your customers are actually looking for.

And what is your goal? If you're looking to generate leads, you'll want to do some keyword research and see what your potential customers are searching for. If you're just looking to increase traffic, you'll need to come up with a holistic growth strategy where blogs are just one part of the process.

Your blogging cadence will be informed by your overall content strategy, which should be informed by domain expertise.

Organic vs. paid

By some estimates, there are now over 1 billion blogs on the Internet.

You may have dreams of driving lots of organic traffic with your blog, but the truth is: Driving organic traffic is hard and takes a lot of time. With a solid SEO strategy you will definitely see big improvements, but it will take at least three months and up to a year for it to really kick in, especially if you're starting from scratch.

Investing in targeted ads to drive leads to your content is nothing to be ashamed of — in fact, it's practically a necessity in today's landscape. Start small, with $100 dedicated to a single post for the month. Consider where you want ads to run (i.e., where your target audience spends their time) — is it Facebook, LinkedIn, search results?

In many ways this step is just as important as writing the blogs themselves, maybe even more important. That means less time spent writing and publishing blogs than you may have anticipated, and balancing that effort with driving visitors to your content.

Establish the cadence that works for you

Like I said — when it comes to blogs, it depends. It depends on your product, your goals, your brand and your workload, among other things.

But it's important to establish some type of cadence. Regular intervals are not only generally thought to give you some SEO juice, it gets you into the groove. The more you post, the more you'll learn and the better you'll get at it.

But you don't have to do it at the expense of your other priorities. Or do you?

It depends.

Two things you're doing wrong with your content

Everyone and their dog is into content marketing these days. Probably literally, considering Modern Dog has been crushing it lately.

And for good reason — content marketing generates more leads than any other type of marketing, and it costs less.

But throwing a blog up and sending posts into the void isn't a viable or successful strategy. If you're in the content game but don't seem to be getting any wins out of it, you might doing some critical things wrong.

Here are a couple of things you might be able to improve:

Keeping it fresh

For every company out there, there's a sweet spot when it comes to content publication.

It's easy to look at how much your favorite sites are publishing — which can easily be in the thousands per month — and wonder how you'll ever get there. What you need to ask yourself is whether you ever want to or need to be there.

Are you trying to be the next big media company? Then you're probably not reading my post, at least I hope not, because you have a lot of work to do.

You probably don't need to publish that much. In fact, there are blogs out there generating millions of visits while publishing only once a week, or even once a month.

Google doesn't care about how many posts you've published in a month. It cares about how fresh and relevant your content is. Updating an older post that's performed well might even be a better strategy than writing up something new.

Find a cadence that works for you, whatever it is. The trick is to keep things fresh and relevant.

I'd also recommend keeping it "fresh" in the Fresh-Prince sense. There's no benefit for your business, it's just cool.

No POV

You've gone through round after round of SEO updates, you've rebuilt your website according to the latest UI trends and you're publishing search-friendly content. So why are people going to your competitor instead of you?

When things are more or less equal on paper, a compelling point-of-view is going to win out every time.

Which headline are you more likely to click?

Tom Brady hurts ankle in practice

5 reasons Tom Brady's injury means his career is over

Sure, either way you're going to click just to pretend like Tom Brady is somehow not secretly a football robot built by the gods, but one of those headlines promises some straightforward (boring) facts, while another offers you a chance to become engaged and entertained.

Simply presenting content isn't going to get you anywhere. Anyone can regurgitate facts. What do you really have to say?

This was originally published on LinkedIn.