In a world where websites are the new storefronts, small businesses are constantly looking for ways to gain an edge over their competitors online. Unfortunately, most business owners don’t realize that the search engine optimization (SEO) marketing tactics they are employing are likely being used by their competitors too. When it boils down, the most common SEO techniques are hard to differentiate. For example, local business citations, on-page techniques, and, if you’re lucky, backlink acquisition are often being done in almost the exact same way by most marketing agencies and vendors. This means that if all things are equal, your business will rarely gain an advantage using such common tactics. So how can small businesses stand out in a sea of average SEO tactics?
The one thing that can differentiate your website is CONTENT. Content is the one thing that is completely unique to you and your company. Content gives you the opportunity to share your business’s story, connect with your customers, and convince them that you are a better choice than your competitors. If you simply develop helpful content that is relevant to your potential and current customers, while keeping a few SEO tips in mind, your competitors won’t be able to mimic your results without copying your content too. Luckily, search engines penalize copy-cats, so that’s why your content is such a key player in boosting your website’s rankings.
Below is a simple formula that every business looking to get a leg up on tough competition can follow.
Knowing How Google Ranks Websites?
Part of generating well-performing content from an SEO perspective is knowing how Google determines rankings in the search results. There are several ranking factors that Google takes into account. The most important of those factors is relevancy. Google wants to show it’s users the most relevant and easy to understand answers to their queries. Google looks at the “relevancy” of your web pages in relation to the words or phrases (keywords) being searched and ranks it accordingly. If your content isn’t deemed very relevant, you could see it fall behind in the results.
A Simple Formula To Creating Website Content That Google Loves
There are simple steps to optimizing content that is wholly unique to your business’s tone, ideation, and personality.
Choose Your Most Profitable (And Enjoyable) Products And Services
Before you get to writing SEO-friendly content, it is best to decide which of your products and services are the most profitable. It isn’t very practical to optimize content that isn’t going to entice your ideal customer base and maximize revenue. So start by picking your most profitable services and products for which to build your content.
Secondly, center your content around the products and services you enjoy providing the most. The areas of your business for which you create more content will ultimately get more online visibility. So why not focus on those which you also enjoy the most. This too will be unique to only you, so your competitors can’t copy it.
Answer Common Questions
Start by choosing common questions people have about those most profitable and enjoyable services and products. I am sure you can think of questions you get all the time from potential customers. A great way to figure out what the frequently asked questions are about your business is using the free tool Answerthepublic.com.
The site lets you search a keyword, say a service like “pest control” that your company provides, and from those words, it creates a visual map about the most-searched-for phrases and questions related to that keyword.
An easy method for writing is to select one question from each category: “who”, “what”, “why”, “where”, “how”, “which”, “when”, “are”, and “is”. Later, in your content, you’re going to answer these questions so that when Google is deciding which sites to display for these questions, it will see that your site is filled with helpful information related to the answers.
Use Free or Inexpensive Tools To Find More Topic Ideas
Your frequently asked questions will get you started, but there are likely other topics related to your products and services that are equally as important. Additional topics give you a lot of room to play with your content, which is great for your business to assert its authority in a given area. However, it can be difficult to brainstorm these topic ideas because the possibilities seem endless.
One of the easiest ways to figure out other topics is by making use of Google’s autocomplete feature. Simply start typing words related to your service or product into the Google search bar and note which phrases Google suggests you complete your search with. These are popular search terms, pulled directly from Google’s search volume data, that you can use for ideating topics.
Other tools include Keywords Everywhere (browser add-on) and Google Ads Keyword Planner. These allow you to see the volume of searches for a keyword and its competition. Seeing those metrics will help give you an idea about what keywords will yield the biggest payoff. Personally, I don’t get too hung up on the metrics, but rather use these as a guide for ideas worth forming topics around.
Some of the most common topics customers are seeking information online for are:
- How much will it cost? (This is a big one, so don’t shy away from answering it on your site.)
- How does it work (the process)?
- Results – before and after
- How-to and DIY (Sure, give your customers some information on how to do it themselves. They will appreciate the value you have provided.)
Organize Your Content Into Themes
Using themes to organize your content is an important step to boosting your site’s SEO. Google favors sites whose content is thorough and organized into themes and topics. Once you’ve determined your most profitable products/services and topic ideas around each, organize this content into themes. For example, a pest control company’s most popular services might fall under the categories of household pest maintenance, commercial pest control, and emergency extermination. These services become its “themes” and the frequently asked questions could be organized as “topics” under each of these themes. You may find that you don’t need to use all of the FAQ or topics you discovered in your research — or you may find you need more topics to create comprehensive content around each theme.
When choosing topics, keep in mind:
- Is this a topic that needs to be answered to provide the most value to your customer?
- What else needs to be answered or covered in order to provide the most value to your customer?
Then, write a comprehensive article (roughly 1000 words or more) for each theme where you outline the bigger picture of the theme. This theme article can either be a page or a blog post on your website. The theme articles should touch on all of the points which will be discussed in detail in the rest of your topics related to that theme.
For example, Prairie Pest Control created a Household Pest Guide as a theme. Note how they briefly describe, then link out to each individual post. This is a great example of how “do-it-yourself” and “how-to” content can help a site significantly climb the rankings while still leading to new business. Prairie Pest Control has seen almost a doubling in new business as a results of their increase in search rankings.
Next, write an individual blog post (roughly 500-750 words or more) for each of the topics that you’ve identified earlier that answer your common questions and expand on additional topics of a theme. This blog post should be a comprehensive article on the topic. It should be helpful and informative to the reader. Eg. “Are Pest Control Sprays Harmful?” The content outlined in your theme articles is supported and made up of these individual blog topics.
Finally, you will unify all of the topics within each theme by hyperlinking out to each of the individual blog posts from your theme article (and they each should like back to the theme article). Think of your theme article as a table of contents for each of its topics. It connects all of your more detailed pieces of content together under each theme.
Here are some examples:
- The Copper River Group, a bank technology consulting firm, has outlined their content in four main themes – Core Technology, Debit and Credit Card Profitability, Vendor Management, and Financial Technology (FinTech). Here is their page for “Vendor Management” which is structured less like an article and more like a page while still touching on and linking out to each major topic – ie. “Tips For Choosing A New Core Vendor”.
- Combs Plastic Surgery has organized their content into the practical themes of “Body”, “Face” and “Breast”, which each include details on their popular procedures.
- Inline Chiropractic has created a Guide to Chiropractic answering all the major questions someone would have before making their first chiropractic appointment. Eg. “Can I See a Chiropractor During Pregnancy?”
Not only does this methodology organize your website in a way that makes it easier for the user to navigate, but by forming these topic clusters all organized around a central theme, Google’s algorithm ranks your content higher.
Content Serves For SEO And Beyond
Your business’s competitors have the same access to digital marketing tools that you do, but the one thing that they don’t have is your brand’s story, voice, and perspective. Try to weave these three things throughout your writing. Your content is your business’s most unique avenue for differentiating yourself from your competitors. Stand out in a sea of average SEO tactics by using your website as a platform to inform, provide value to, and connect with your customer base all while pleasing search engines.
Creating unique content based on this formula is not only an opportunity to tell Google that you have the answers to the questions of potential customers but, more importantly, to stand out in your industry and better connect with your customers.