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Cornerstone content revisited: how to boost your site rank and traffic​

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Introduction

Getting traffic to your website can be a brutal process, especially if you don’t know where to turn.  And paid traffic from Facebook or Google Ads stops as soon as you stop paying. So in addition to a paid strategy, it’s important to make your site and your content search engine friendly so that you can gradually increase your rank and discoverability. Cornerstone content is a key element to help make this happen.

If you are familiar with basic SEO concepts:

Then read on, because one of the most effective ways to boost your site rank and traffic is to use cornerstone content.

Once you understand how cornerstone content can be applied to your website, you will notice improvements and clarity in the way search engine algorithms index and rank your content, and the chance of your articles appearing on page one of search results increases. It takes a bit of time to kick in, but SEO activities are seldom a “quick fix”, and more often an investment in a stream of reliable track. This article will explore what should be included with your cornerstone content, and how you can use it to boost traffic and link your existing content to it strategically.

If you are pretty new to SEO:

Some people think of SEO as a confusing and complex set of technical tricks for people to discover your content on search engines. The reality for many businesses and blogs is that there is a lot of competition out there for popular search keywords, and that their site does not have the overall search engine authority to help them rank their articles anywhere near the top page of search results.

However, with a little work and patience an investment in understanding how search engines work is well worth it, and if you are new to the topic please check out our completely free course on SEO, a resource designed to provide easy to follow steps and recipes to increase your site’s visibility and rank. The course is geared towards podcasters, but everything in it also applies for blogs or business sites following a content strategy.

What is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content is comprised of your hero content, such as pages and blog articles on your website.  These should be your most compelling and important pieces. They should answer your site visitors biggest questions, explain your business approach and topic of interest in great details, and in general be content you are most proud of.  The articles should reflect your business, communicate the mission, and provide well written explanations.

How does Cornerstone Content Work?

Cornerstone ContentCornerstone content relies on an internal link building approach. Most other articles on your site should repeatedly link to your cornerstone content by way of explaining important and repeating concepts on your site.

These multiple links then create a roadmap for search engines to recognize that these cornerstone articles are the most important pages your site has to offer, and this will increase the rank of these pages on Google and other search engines.

Cornerstone Content

click to see full size

Google loves well organized content, and this overall linking strategy creates a spider web of internal links Google loves. We’ve illustrated this spider web of links to your cornerstone content in the main graphic for this post, click on this small thumbnail to see the full size version.

Using Categories to Select Your Cornerstone Topics

If you are already running a site with well organized content, the likelihood is that it is organized by category.

One approach to cornerstone content is to create a hero “cornerstone content” post for each category. All the other articles in the category should then refer to and link to this post.

Of course some people have way too many categories on their site, and from my perspective this is a mistake. In my opinion a handful of categories are more effective than dozens. Perhaps focusing on launching your cornerstone content is a good opportunity to clean up your categories and tag structure, there are easy methods for category cleanup out there to help do this.

Importance of Keywords

When you’re deciding on your cornerstone content, you need to consider the keywords you want to rank for carefully. In our aforementioned SEO course we provide many tools, tips and tricks on how to conduct keyword research that is effective for your site. Do not fall into the trap of trying to rank for keywords your site has no chance of ever achieving a page 1 result for – your keywords need to be commensurate with your current site rank, and this can be different from site to site. (We actually have a formula for that in the course)

For this reason I actually like using the term “key phrase” better than “keyword”, which implies a single word. Often the keyphrase will be a combination of two or more words that people are actually searching for on Google.

So you are looking for key phrases that are low in competition (The concept of keyword difficulty), but relatively high in search traffic.

In any case, you should make these keywords unique, and use them only once on your site – for your cornerstone article. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that repeatedly optimizing pages for the same keyword is helpful: it will only dilute the importance the Google algorithm assigns to the page.

Blog articles or pages?

There is often some amount of debate among SEOs if cornerstone content should be blog articles or created as pages on your site. Many marketers recommend setting up cornerstone content as pages. I agree, but there is no technical SEO advantage to creating pages over posts, they are ranked the same.

The benefit is that pages have over posts are

  • They do not have dates, and it is good for your cornerstone content to appear timeless
  • Pages can be organized in menu structures, making them easy to find

But there are ways to get around this, on some WordPress themes you can suppress the display of dates on blog posts. And alternatively, this brings me to another SEO trick: from time to time it is good to update your cornerstone content to keep it fresh. Personally what I do is to put a “Last updated XX/XX/XXX” at the very beginning of the post, and I have seen Google increase the post rank after doing this. So this is a “trick” to get a small additional boost for cornerstone content created some time ago.

As far as making cornerstone content easy to find, for me most traffic is coming from search and social media. This means people are likely to land on my blog, and not focusing on navigating my menu structures. So what I have done is to position cornerstone articles prominently and permanently on the top of my blog page, in a “sticky” manner. Besides, you can easily include blog articles in your menu structure if that helps.

So in my case cornerstone content is easily left as blog entries instead of converting these articles to pages.

Article Quality as Well as Length Matters

The goal of cornerstone content is to serve your site visitor, not just to increase your rank.

It goes without saying that your cornerstone articles should be of great quality, communicate your value proposition, are easy to read, have lots of images, and be SEO optimized with all the tips and techniques we teach in our free SEO course for podcasters and bloggers.

But how do you define quality? Spare a thought as to what would make a really useful resource for your audience and topic, one that people would love to share on social media, are likely to bookmark or revisit as a reference from time to time. If you can manage to make your page or post so compelling that people bookmark and share, then you will have won half the battle.

So a 300 word quickie article will not cut it, and the likelihood is that your site visitors would be more impressed and bookmark a 5000 word manifesto. Which brings us to length.

You SEO veterans out there will be aware that article length matters to Google. Google attributes more importance to articles over 300 words in length. Another inflection point occurs at 700 words, and then again at 2000 words.

So when it comes to cornerstone content, longer articles still are even better, but they should definitely be over 2000 words.

cornerstone content rankingWe’ve seen cases where we ranked a client’s page to be #1 on Google within a week, using a specifically designed and optimized long form article for the search term desired.

Google “customer experience podcast” for example, and you should see our client’s article in position #1: What we did is to create an article to summarize the experience and insights for the first 50 episodes of her podcast. We SEO optimized the article, and her fans and listeners loved it and shared the article widely, and within a few weeks her post ranked on the top for the desired search term.

Writing Clearly: A Confession And Three Tips

Cornerstone content should be written clearly. I have a confession to make, I seem to have a hard time doing this. There are tools out there to provide a “readability score”, and I tend to get a failing grade quite often. English is not my first language, but that’s just an excuse. So if you are like me and tend to express yourself with complexity, here are some tips  and tools to help:

  1. Keep your paragraphs super short
  2. Break up content with frequent headings
  3. The Hemingway App is a wonderful on-line tool that evaluates your writing in real time, and then starts marking your content progressive shades of red as it gets too complex. It will keep you writing with hemingway-esque brevity. And punish you for using too many adverbs:)

Some Cornerstone Content Ideas For Inspiration

I am sure you can come up with a ton of ideas for your blog, site or topic, but here are some cornerstone content ideas for you to consider and to help get you started.

A Definitive Resource Guide

A collection of curated external and internal links, resources, sites, video, podcasts, books etc. Describe each resource and do not just provide a list of links, but go into detail about why they are useful and in what scenario they lend value.

A Manifesto Post

A detailed explanation of your world view, philosophy, approach to your topics, summarizing your truths and then going into detail explaining your position. These can be controversial in nature, which adds to the shareability.

A Research Results Post

Conducting your own primary research around a topic in your niche is one of the best ways to build blog content that gets attention. Go into details, include graphics and references.

Tutorial Post

Create a multi part tutorial on a topic you know your audience would love, but which also represents your site’s topic well.

Crowd Sourced Influencer Post

Bring multiple influencers together to answer a single question in short form. When you get 10 influencers to give you 300 words each on a single topic – you’ve got a powerful blog post.

Podcast Episodes Roundup

If you have a podcast summarize the insights and best resources gathered in your last 50 episodes.

Internal Site Linking To Cornerstone Content

cornerstone-content-incoming-linksOnce you have created a piece of cornerstone content, it is time to identify all the other articles on your site that should link to it. One approach would be to go into a list of every article within your chosen category, or to use a list of related tags.

However, there is a more effective method to identify content that Google already thinks is related: Using Google Internal Site Search.

Go to Google and search for your keyword or key phrase in the following format: (for multiple words making up a key phrase, place these in quotes as in my own example below)

site:mysite.com keyword

So on my site, for example, this is what it would look like for a piece of cornerstone content about podcast production

site:polymash.com "podcast production"

This will result in a list of articles Google already thinks are relevant to the topic. The last step is to modify each of these articles to link to your cornerstone content article from within the text.

It is important to note that links in the sidebar of through a footer widget do not carry as much weight as links from within these posts themselves, so find a paragraph with some text from where it makes sense to link to your cornerstone content article.

External Links to Related Content

Don’t think that cornerstone content should link only to your internal articles. Providing links to other authority sites is helpful to the reader, and establishes other resources to consider on your general topic.

However, I have one caveat: I usually provide external links near the bottom of my articles, because I want to encourage people to read my article first before jumping off somewhere else. This also helps reduce my bounce rate in the process, another SEO ranking factor.

Case in point: Here are some great external articles on Cornerstone Content:

  • Copyblogger: Cornerstone Content Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]
  • Yoast: Using cornerstone content to make your site rank

The Landing Page Approach

Another useful way of thinking about structuring cornerstone content posts is to take a landing page approach.

This means removing menus, distracting sidebars, and adding a table of contents near the top. Of course you still want to enable your visitor to find menus and navigation for the rest of your site, but this menu can occur on the bottom of your page (Also sometimes referred to “Upside Down Home Page”, one of the inbound design patterns we often talk about.)

Summary

Cornerstone content should attract visitors to easily find core information about you, your topic, service or industry. When done right, it will serve your visitors and help put your other content into context, while at the same time helping you rank for more difficult and competitive keywords.

Using these simple tips and tricks will ensure your cornerstone content is ready to go.

How To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization

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Lesson 5 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters series is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

In the previous 4 posts of this series we’ve talked about on-page SEO optimization. Today I’l like to focus on an often overlooked aspect of SEO.

If you’ve applied all the previous lessons of this series, then you will already have great content and a great headline for your post. And if you are promoting your content on social media, chances are that your post will organically appear in search result soon.

So what is the only remaining hurdle for people to actually click and visit your website to read your post?

The answer lies in your search result snippet, the way your content appears on Google. In other words, how click worthy is your search result snippet? And there is more to this that meets the eye…

Search Results Visualization

What is a search result snippet?

Search Result Snippet Explanation GraphicThe answer is closely tied to search engine results pages (SERP):

  • A search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query.
  • It consists of a list of items with titles, a reference to the full version, and a short description.
  • A “search result snippet” is how your post or podcast shownotes page shows up as a single item on this list.

How do you ensure a great search result snippet?

Once again, Yoast to the rescue. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is useful because it displays a “Search Result Snippet Preview”.

  • This allows you to change and edit the way the title and description of the post is displayed in the SERP snippet.
  • It also lets you change the title and description you would like to display in the search results.
  • In short, it lets you design what people will experience as they find your content in search results.

Why should you optimize the Search Result Snippet?

It is important to optimize the way your post shows up in search results. Google rewards well designed search result snippets with increased ranking. Perhaps not by much, but it makes a slight difference. More important is this:

If your search result snippet looks unattractive, makes no sense, or the post title is too long, then users are much less likely to click. So a well designed search engine result snippet can increase clicks a lot.

Here is an example of a post before optimization, and the reasons it would be bad to leave it this way:

Search Result Snippet - A Bad Example

  • The post title is too long, and thus gets “cut off”, and Google had to add an ellipsis a the end.
  • The sentence below the title makes no sense, and does not help the searcher identify what this post is about. This is because the meta description was not entered on Yoast, and so Google just displays the first words appearing on this post.
  • Some premium themes have short codes that appear in the SERP snippet, and this can be confusing.

Here is an optimized example

Search Result Snippet - A Good Example

Google rewards you for optimizing the appearance of search results snippets. Here is the same example as above, but this time with the post title length fixed, and with the correct meta description added.

  • As you can see, the content makes sense and will result in a higher percentage of clicks.

Additional tips to design a successful SERP snippet

You might think of ways to tease people with a hint of what they will learn reading your post.

  • To my eye, keeping it super short with a teaser is most effective.
  • One line is better than two.
  • Asking a question can be inviting readers to click.
  • Of course your target keyword should still be present in the meta description.

What if you’re not using WordPress or Yoast SEO?

No problems, here are some great resources for you. They work with any blog platform.

Conclusion

Even if you are already writing great post and episode headlines, do not overlook the importance of designing your SERP snippets.

Given the time you spend writing content, especially if you follow our philosophy of podcasting as a content strategy, then it makes perfect sense to dedicate a few extra minutes to this. And while WordPress plugins (like Yoast) make it easy, there are alternative snippet visualizers.


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast SEO Course Overview

Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4You Are Here!
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers Love4 Easy SEO Secrets To Powerful Podcast Episode Titles3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To Know

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Lesson 4 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters series is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

An often overlooked SEO factor for podcasters is that images in posts contribute to SEO rankings. Of course the images should be interesting and relevant in the first place, but technically the way images contribute to your SEO ranking has to do with “ALT” tags, as well as with their role in determining your site loading speed.

1.) Use ALT Text Tags For SEO Image Optimization

What are ALT text tags?

A WordPress example of Alt TextThe official definition of ALT text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell Web site viewers the nature or contents of an image. The ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. This is useful when an image link is not available because of a broken or changed URL or some other issue.

Why are they important for SEO?

Also, ALT tags serve as accessibility properties that provide the visually disabled, (who use screen reader software to read page content out loud), with information about each image. This has the additional side effect that search engines pick up these ALT tags as well and index your article based on the image ALT tag language used. So for SEO Image Optimization, if you can use your main article key-phrase in the ALT tag, it will add to your overall SEO post optimization and keyword density in a positive way.

Do’s and Dont’s

  • Do honor the intent of creating accessible sites that provide screen readers and search engines with context and recognition of what is going on in the image
  • Do not stuff indiscriminately keywords into the ALT tags in a way that makes screen readers annoying, inaccurate or not useful
  • Do use descriptions that describe the image in a meaningful way, while utilizing your key-phrase

To include an “ALT” tag, it is added to each image in the following ways:

  • In WordPress, you don’t need to know HTML to do this, you can add the ALT tag in the media library, or when you are adding the image to the post
  • If you want to know what this looks like in HTML, you would simply add alt=“Description of the image” to your image tag
  • For example, if you wanted to add an image with a podcasting microphone, that might look like so:
<img src=“microphone.jpg” alt=“Podcasting Microphone”/>
WordPress Tip

WordPress tip on using the same image several times:

Keep in mind that if you’ve already used an image and created an ALT Text tag for a previous posts, changing that image’s ALT text tag might negatively affect the SEO ranking of previous posts. A typical example of this are featured images in posts. If you have already used an image on a post once before, it is likely to already have an ALT tag assigned optimized for a previous SEO keyword.

  • Therefore if you would like to use it again it is better to upload a new version of the image, even if it already exists in your media library.

 

2.) Understand Your Site Load Speed

Site load speed has been a search rank factor for a long time, and the speed that your page loads is directly influenced by the size of the images present on your pages. WordPress and most themes process images into several sizes when you first upload them, so that thumbnails and several small to large size variations can be used. But WordPress compression algorithms are often not ideal.

Tools to help you understand your site load speed

We have tried to list some great SEO tools throughout this series, and image processing tools are often overlooked. We’ll get to these in a minute, but first of all it helps to you know if images on your site contribute to slow loading speeds, and by how much. Here are 2 tools that help you measure the loading speed of your site, and allow you to compare before and after optimization.

GTmetrix assists in SEO image optimizationGTmetrix

  • GTmetrix: A free service that gives you insight on how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimize it

Yslow

  • Yslow: Yahoo!’s Exceptional Performance team has identified 34 rules that affect web page performance. YSlow’YSlow Logos web page analysis tests your site against 34 rules that affect web page performance, and is based on the 23 of these 34 rules that are testable.

 

3.) Improve Your Site Speed By Optimizing Your Images

Once you decide you’d like to optimize your site images in order to improve load times, here are some tools that help you do it.

  • If you have an existing site with lots of images, a utility to help optimize these is great, but in general terms I would also recommend to pre-process and size images for use on your web site when you first upload these or create them in Photoshop or your favorite graphics program.
  • Uploading 12,000px wide images straight from your camera is lazy, and there is no use for these on your site without first optimizing them, and utilities like Snap-Converter mentioned below make this process very easy.

So in general terms I recommend optimizing images before they ever make it to your site.

That said, here are some great tools:

WP Smush

  • WP Smush Pro For SEO image optimizationWP Smush is the popular replacement of the Smush-It image optimization plugin based on a service once provided by Yahoo, but now discontinued
  • WP Smush Pro is a premium image optimization tool that uses advanced algorithms to compress your images while maintaining their quality and dramatically improving your website’s page speed.
  • It will go through your entire media library and replace your on-line images with optimized versions, while maintaining quality. This can significantly speed up your site. Run GTmetrix before and after, and you will be rewarded with a vastly improved site load speed, and Google rank.
  • It also processes every new image you upload, so you can be assured that all of your site images are compressed optimally.

Snap-Converter

  • Snap ConverterSnap Converter (for Mac) is a utility to help you resize as well as convert images from PNG to JPG
  • Convert images as well as Mac and Windows icon files. Supports standard bitmap types as well as digital Camera RAW types, Photoshop documents, and more. View the complete list of supported file types.

Resize SenseResize Sense

  • Resize Sense is a utility that helps crop and resize images to a variety of optimized sizes.
  • Very useful for when you need to convert a range of differently sized images into the same size and aspect ratio.
  • Helps to eliminate the hours of tedious work needed to resize, crop, straighten, rotate, flip, edit metadata, and rename many images one at a time.


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast SEO Course Overview

Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 3You Are HereLesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques 3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

Great Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques

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Lesson 3 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters course is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

Your podcast episode title is likely something that will get shared on social media, and more importantly will show up in search results and on iTunes as well.

Given how much time you are putting into creating a podcast, it is worth spending a little extra effort on creating a good title that makes people want to click through and listen or read more.

Of course you should not write content or headlines for search engines, so keep it people friendly, avoid keyword stuffing and make sure the meaning of the content is not distorted by forcing a keyword or key-phrase into the content.

1.) Podcast Episode Title Do’s

  • The MFCEO Podcast Does Episode Titles WellTry to convey the essence of what the episode is about
  • Be sure to add a short description as well (see the gallery below on how this  impacts iTunes)
  • You can include the name of the guest and the episode number, but place this information at the end
  • If possible, try to include your SEO key-phrase in the episode title.
  • Include your SEO key-phrase in the post slug

Example: Check out the MFCEO Project for some examples of “well done” episode titles

2.) Podcast Episode Title Don’ts

Check out the gallery below of Podcast Episode Title Don’ts

  • Do not put the name of the podcast first, this wastes space and is redundant.
  • Do not use the date and time as your episode title. (Sorry, Dave Ramsey)
  • Do not put the episode number first, if you’d like to include it, place it last. The reason for this is the way that episode titles display on iTunes, there are only about a 25 visible characters that display in the list of episodes, so putting episode numbers first wastes this space.
  • For interview shows, do not just use the guest’s name as the title, unless they are a celebrity. Listeners who don’t know the guest will not know what the episode is about.

3.) Use these resources for writing great episode titles and post headlines

Pro bloggers have known this secret for a long time: Catchy, fun, unique and click-worthy titles help drive traffic to their blogs. Spending time to think of good episode titles will help drive traffic to your show notes page, as well as increase your listenership. Suffering from episode title writers-block? Don’t worry, there are tools out there to help you, my favorites are:

 

4.) 5 More Not So Secret SEO Tips for Titles and Content

Tip #1: Creating H2 Tags (or sub-titles)

From an SEO perspective, Google (and other search engines) love well organized and hierarchical content. This means your show notes post should be organized. The title of the post should have the H1 tag, paragraph headers should have an H2 tag and short paragraphs should consist of text and bullet points. This approach has the additional benefit of increasing the readability of your content.

Tip #2: Focus on Readability

Unless you are writing long form essay content, short paragraphs are more appropriate for podcast show notes and accommodate “skimmer” type readers.

  • Try to avoid densely spaced content of paragraph after paragraph of text, this will be hard to read and is too information dense.
  • Breaking up your show notes into smaller segments is a good practice, also the use of images to break up the content is a good idea and will make your posts look and read better.
  • Add a sub-headline (H2 tag) for every paragraph

Tip #3: Do not use H1 tags anywhere in your show notes post

  • Each page should only have one single H1 tag
  • H1 tags are reserved for your post headline, and this tag is usually built into your theme
  • So in practice this means you should only use H2 and H3 tags within your show notes post
  • When you publish your post, the post title will automatically be displayed as an H1 tag on your page

Tip #4: Include your key phrase in at least one H2 tag sub-headline

  • Just as it was important to include your key-phrase in the H1 tag (or post title), it is also important to include the key-phrase in at least one H2 tag sub-headline

Tip #5: Watch The Concept of Keyword Density

While this is not relevant to headlines, you can and should use the key-phrase several times in the body of your post text. Keyword density refers to the number of times you have included your key-phrase in your post content, as a percentage of overall word count. If you are using the recommended WordPress SEO plugin, watch for the keyword density recommendations it provides, you can find these on the advanced tab.

Some keyword density tools


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?

 


Podcast SEO Course Overview

Lesson 1Lesson 2You Are Here…Lesson 4Lesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers Love

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Lesson 2 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


The SEO for Podcasters course is a series of posts and a step by step guide to all the techniques we use for our clients. We ensure their podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

The Fine Art of SEO Keyword Strategies

Keyword strategies fail if you select keyphrases that are too popularIn this post I’m covering some SEO tips and research strategies that have emerged from discussions we’ve had with many of our blogging, content marketing and podcast production clients. The good news, unlike in years past,  is that almost all of our clients consider SEO a “must have” component of running a podcast or blog.  And for many, their blog or podcast serves as the central inbound marketing component for their site, driving traffic and increasing their e-mail lists.

But understanding of SEO keywords strategies and finding good keyphrases often starts with this mis-conception:

I just need to find a popular keyword that lots of people are looking for, and then optimize my post for it.

 

1.) The dangers of being too popular

It might seem quite easy to imagine a popular keyword that you want to be found for. Why not try and optimize a podcast episode for the keyword “podcast” for example? A popular term, 350K searches a month. Would that not drive lots of traffic to your site?

The answer is yes, but only if your site can rank in the top 50 search results for this keyword.

An example of a futile keyword strategySuggestion: Click here to do a search for the word “podcast” on google right now, and look at the top 10 results. Who are the sites ranking in the top 10? That’s right, Wikipedia, Apple, NPR, The Atlantic, etc. In other words hugely popular sites.

Now ask yourself, on which page of the search results do you think your own post would show up?

That’s right, page 200+ or something like this, unless you have a massively popular site. And when was the last time you looked at or clicked on anything beyond page 2 of a google search result?

The lessons and implications are this:

  • Do not try to rank for hugely popular keywords. You will not be in the top 50 search results, and therefore your post will not generate any organic search traffic to your site.
  • You need to research keywords and keyphrases in order to know if they are in fact “too popular” for your post to rank for them.
  • You need to have an idea about how your site ranks, in other words who it can compete with. Without this information, you are flying blind

No worries though, we will cover all of these considerations in this blog series.

2.) Is there such a thing as being “too niche”?

OK, so in our previous example, the keyword “podcast” seems very generic, and we’ve realized it’s unlikely we can rank our post for it. So what about the other extreme? Maybe it will be easier to rank for a key-phrase that is very specific?

keyword strategies example using Google AdWordsAssume for a minute we optimize a post for the term “health tips for dads”. And a few days or weeks after we published the post, HOORAY, we are ranking on the top 1-2 pages for this post!

Mission accomplished? Well no, hang on…

How many people a month do you think are looking for this term? Oh, sorry, a quick peek at Google Adwords reveals that this term is searched for 0 times a month, which is exactly how much traffic this keyword choice will generate.

The lessons and implications are this:

  • You may rank in the top 10 search engine results, but that does not mean you will get traffic from a keyphrase that is too niche.

3.) So what’s the answer then?

Finding the right fit for your keyword strategies The answer is finding a fit: To identify keywords and key-phrases commensurate with the search engine power of your site overall.

Some rules of thumb we follow for keyword research success:

  • The rule of thumb we follow is that if you have a brand new site with little traffic (Under 2000 sessions a month), try and find key-phrases that have at least 70 searches a month, but stay under 300 searches a month.
  • If you have a popular site at least 1-2 years old with 5000+ month visitor sessions, perhaps you can rank for key-phrases with 300+ searches a month.
  • But to rank for content that has 1000+ searches a month, you need your site to have both a lot more traffic.

Ask yourself, is it better to be on page 100 for a keyword that is popular, or on page 1 or 2 for a keyword that is un-popular, but that people are still looking for 100 times a month?

4.) Some other ways to determine your overall site rank

Have a look at Alexa rankings, there you can look up your site’s rank for free. Keep in mind, these are my personal educated guesses based on our experience, I would love to hear from you if you manage to “break the ceiling” of these rather cautionary numbers.

Alexa is a great toolset, and if you sign up for the free version you can create charts and comparison graphs to track your site’s rank vs your competitors.

Our “educated guess” rules of thumb here are as follows:

  • New sites are typically ranked 5million or higher. If you are, stay with key-phrases that are searched for at most 70-100 times a month.
  • If your site is ranked above 1.5Million on Alexa, you can likely rank for key-phrases that have 300 monthly searches  and above.
  • If your site is ranked above 500K on Alexa, you can likely rank for more popular search terms and key-phrases that have 1000 monthly searches or more.

5.) How can you tell the number of searches a month for any given key-phrase?

Using Google AdWords for keyword strategiesNotice that earlier we mentioned checking up on how many times a month people search for a specific key-phrase. This is super valuable information, but how do you do this? The answer is Google AdWords. If you have not ever placed any pay-per-click ads with Google before, you may be unfamiliar with the platform, but it is free to use and has the best keyword research tools available for free.

Our advice on this one: sign up for an AdwWords account, even if you don’t intend to do paid advertising  

  • The sign-up process is a pain, as it requires a credit card and the only way you can sign up is to launch your own initial PPC ad, but you can simply pause the ad as soon as you launch it, and it won’t cost you a cent. The process may be scary, but it is definelty worth it.

6.) The Concept Of Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a data concept and score that shows you exactly how hard it is going to be to rank in the top 10 search results on Google or other search engines. It does so by investigating the sites that show up in the top 10 results of google, and then comparing their SEO maturity and rank to your own. So a low keyword difficulty score is better, it means that you are more likely to be able to compete with the sites in the top 10 search results. A high score means that the top 10 search results are occupied by popular sites that you will have difficulty competing with.

Keyword difficulty tools we use provide a range of information about your competitor sites that currently occupy the top 10 search results. Domain age, # of incoming links, Alexa ranking and social signals are all able to pinpoint “weak competitors” currently showing up in the top 10 search results. Using these tools as part of our SEO services, and selecting “the right” keywords using the keyword strategies outlined above, we can often quickly accurately create a recipe that places a post or podcast episode into the top 10 search results on Google and other search engines.

Giving away all our secrets, but here are some of the keyword difficulty tools we use for this: 

All in one approach to keyword strategiesAre there any “All In One Solutions” ?

The KW platform is an all-in-one solution that allows you to conduct research for your keyword strategies. You get insights into keyword difficulty and competition all in one place. See a screenshot  in the image:

A Word About App Store Optimization

When we’ve been talking about keyword optimization, it’s been largely about being found on the web. What about being found on the app store? This is generally called ASO or app store optimization.

Within iTunes there are only limited places where you can ensure that people can find your show.

The title of the podcast is the most important one, but keywords are difficult to embed there, unless the title of your show lends itself to this. Keywords within the description of the podcast are not indexed, and therefore people cannot easily find you with these on iTunes. However, and often overlooked place to embed keywords relevant to your show is the Author Title Tag.

Tip: Use the author title tag to embed keywords for your title.

Here is an example from a podcast we produce called “The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show”. Notice how the name of the podcast host includes keywords that are significant for her business.

Conclusion

Spending just a little time on learning the above keyword research tips can have a major impact on your site traffic. It may seem overwhelming at first, but studying this for an hour or two a week is all it takes.

What are some keyword research approaches that are working well for you?

We would love to hear from you about what is and what isn’t working working for you.


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?

 


SEO For Podcasters Course Overview

Lesson 1You Are Here…Lesson 3Lesson 4Lesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques 3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You

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Lesson 1 of 5

THE SEO FOR PODCASTERS (AND BLOGGERS) COURSE


This is the first post in a course about podcast SEO optimization. The series is a step by step guide to all the techniques we use to ensure our clients podcast show notes are driving traffic to their sites and are ranked highly on Google and other search engines.

About this Podcast SEO Optimization Course

One of my most popular posts of 2017 continues to be about starting a podcast as a content strategy, and since then podcasts have been getting even more popular. We produce podcasts for clients, and help them with the launch strategies to get their podcast into iTunes New and Noteworthy. But sometimes it’s not just about having visibility on iTunes, increasingly clients are interested in using their podcast show notes content as a passive traffic driver to their own primary web site or to their show’s website.

So I’ve been coaching a lot of solopreneurs and podcasters on SEO, to help them position their show’s site and show notes pages, and showing them the tricks in making sure that podcast episode show notes are SEO optimized in order to contribute to a site’s traffic and ranking. Of course optimizing a podcast episode is almost identical to optimizing a blog post, so even if you do not have a podcast, read on…

What this podcast SEO course focuses on

There are a lot of mis-conceptions about how SEO works, and how to set up podcast episodes in a way that contributes to a sites overall rank with search engines. For the purpose of this series, we will focus on keyword research techniques and “On-Page-SEO”, in other words the art of creating fully SEO optimized show notes posts for your podcast episodes.

WordPress vs other CMS systems

We will focus on how to do this with WordPress, although the techniques discussed here a true for any content other management system. Even though we may discuss certain plugins in this post, we will cover what the plugins actually do step by step so that you can use it on non-Wordpress based sites.

“Link Building”

Link building techniques are still all a huge part of a successful SEO strategy, and is a huge topic by itself. Google rank in large part depends on incoming links to your show pages from other sites. The idea is that that your podcast guests for a show will reciprocate for the links you are creating to their site, by writing their own short piece of content that links back to your podcast show notes page, thereby providing valuable “google juice” and increasing the rank for your site.

Link Building Tip: Ask your podcast guests to link to your episode of their interview on their own site. We are pretty insistent on this as part of the deal before even booking guests for many of the shows we produce.

We won’t be going into the details of link building techniques, and will cover this in detail in a different blog series. However I would point out that this course should result in your content becoming more search engine optimized and friendly, and this means more more people will be able to discover, share and link to your content even organically. Typically, you do have to ask and encourage your guests and fans to create links to your show or episode pages, but the rewards in terms of Google rank increases can make the difference between being on page 20 vs being found on the top page(s) of the search results)


Podcast SEO Course Overview

You Are Here…Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4Lesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques 3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

Podcast SEO Concepts Overview

The high level topics of SEO optimizing podcast episode show notes we will discuss in this series are as follows:
Podcast SEO Concepts

  1. Keyword Research
    How to research and choose a good key-phrase or keyword that is aligned with your content. This key-phrase should be what you think people might look for on search engines, and your content should be the perfect answer and fit for their question. We will discuss SEO concepts keyword difficulty scores.
  2. Good Titles
    Once you have found a key-phrase you would like to optimize for, then the episode title, content and images of the show notes post will be subtly changed or “optimized” around this key-phrase. This is what we will go through step by step in this series of posts. We we also touch on the importance of good titles in terms of ASO (App Store Optimization), where your shows keywords are searchable on the iTunes app store itself.
  3. Search Result Visualizations
    How to design the way your post looks in search results by selecting right SEO Titles and meta-description, and testing this with “preview snippet”. Creating a compelling episode title as well as a great short description that shows up in search results is not only key in being found, but also determines how many people will actually click through once they see your episode title and description in search results.
  4. Content Optimizations
    How to optimize paragraph headers (sometimes also known as H2 Tags), the main content text of your post ensuring the right “Keyword Density”, how to SEO optimize images, and why including them in your show notes is important.

A Note About Using SEO Plugins

Using Yoast SEO (Formerly known as WordPress SEO)

Yoast for Podcast SEOYoast SEO (Formerly WordPress SEO by Yoast ) is one of the most complete and easy to use SEO assistance plug-ins. While there are other solutions out there, (Premium SEO Pack & All in One SEO Pack receive honorable mentions), I can highly recommend using Yoast, because it teaches the techniques needed step by step as you go through the process of optimizing each post, and it provides easy to understand feedback on how well each technique is implemented. So if you have a WordPress based blog or site, do yourself a favor and install this plugin.

Of course the use of a plug-in alone does not guarantee SEO success

  • Plugins can assist, but there are certain fundamentals and principles that are key to understand in getting your podcast episodes to generate search traffic.
  • The best SEO plugin in the world will not increase your site rank if you don’t understand the SEO fundamentals that make this plugin tick when you use it to optimize your content.
  • So what we will cover in this series are these fundamental SEO optimization concepts and steps of optimizing you content. So you can succeed with these tips without ever installing a plugin like Yoast SEO. It’s just that this plugin makes it easier, provides feedback and additional insights, and automates some of the more complex background tasks like creating an XML sitemap and submitting this to search engines automatically.

So I won’t go into the specifics of how to use the Yoast SEO plugin here, but there are may great tutorials and videos out there. If you are installing Yoast for the first time, here is my favorite setup post by Yoast himself, and what I like best is that he has kept this article up to date since the plug-in was first introduced in 2008.


Market & Launch your podcast

This resource guide includes gear guides, platform tips and guidance on how to market and grow your digital presence using podcasting as content strategy.

podcasting as content strategy

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast SEO Course Overview

You Are Here…Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4Lesson 5
How To Make Podcast SEO Optimization Work for You6 Proven Keyword Strategies Podcasters And Bloggers LoveGreat Podcast Episode Titles – Use these 4 SEO Techniques 3 Practical SEO Image Optimization Tricks Podcasters Need To KnowHow To Increase Your Traffic With Search Result Visualization
An overview of the concepts covered in this SEO training series for podcasters and bloggersMisconceptions of keyword research, and how to do it rightThe importance of creating compelling episode titles, both for SEO and click-worthiness There are many ways in which images contribute to SEO of your siteTips on crafting a good search result snippets to increase traffic to your site

Design problems? 5 powerful ways to reframe them as opportunities!

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Let’s face it, your web site design has a certain shelf life, and the time comes when even the most reticent business owners realize their site is due for a make-over. Being a visual design fanatic, graphic designer and photographer I sympathize with clients who think they have a design problem. Just recently a prospect stated something I hear a lot:

“My biggest problem has always been the design of things”

I think this comes from intuitively recognizing that “there is something wrong or missing” from their site, but failing to realize exactly what it might be. And so the focus falls on “design”, the “look and feel”, the “cool factor”, the latest font choices, video backgrounds and sliders. Thoughts turn to “mobile”, “responsive”, “more modern”.

UX Design Problems Are Hard to Spot At First Glance

hard to spot ux problemMarketers and app developers have embraced user experience as being a fundamental aspect of modern design. But for the average small business owner, blogger, solopreneur and for most lay people, UX is a difficult and mysterious concept to come to grips with, and the lack of a good user experience is hard to spot.
This means that very often site re-designs are based on visual decisions and look and feel only, ignoring the fundamentals of user behavior, research, and customer centric thinking. This also implies little research and planning.

But Digital Strategy Gaps Are Even Harder To Spot

For me, the coolest vanity site out there is useless (or at best a hobby only) if it fails to attract and convert visitors into leads. Or fails to engage consumers of our content. Visitors will come, say “wow this is cool”, and then leave, unless we have a way to capture them. Like being on a blind date with someone beautiful, without ever asking for a name. Now there’s a design problem for you.

Some examples of missed opportunities

We’ve seen carefully crafted corporate site re-designs launch, with no content other than myopic product catalogs, services and company history, all organized by internal departments, and navigable only by the initiated. Why was the site not converting?

Because that’s called an intranet.

So often the language is that of a first person narrative, it’s all me, me, me, or we, we, we.

Sorry, how are you helping your site visitors?

We see sites that advertise their products and services by shouting at a demographic, rather than starting to engage with their prospects.

If you want to start a conversation, don’t shout.

And often we see thoughtful and entertaining blog articles, marooned and hidden away in some far corner of a site without linking to other valuable pages, and without any accessible opt-ins chance to grow email lists for the content owners. Or we’ve seen famous authors book launch site giving away free preview chapters of their book, without a sign up form asking for an email in exchange. I get it, you’re being modest and are providing value, but trust me, it’s OK to have an occasional opt-in asking for a name and email address.

There is such a thing as being too humble.

So the question for me is always one of customer centricity: Who do you place at the center of your site’s experience? Yourself or your visitors?

So what should we focus on when considering a site re-design?

Let us adopt our customer’s point of view. What is our value proposition to them? How can we inform, delight and offer relevant content and experiences to them?

1.) Awareness: Start by realizing the opportunity for re-invention

It starts with simply realizing that each time a web site is re-designed, it is a huge strategic opportunity to re-invent not only the site, but also the way it contributes to your underlying business model.

2.) Education: Why and how content marketing works

Initially, spend more time researching. In my experience, most web design projects benefit from an 80/20 rule: 80% planning, 20% execution. Educate yourself about why content marketing and an inbound approach work so well for most companies that practice it. Here some quick stats and info to understand the opportunity better…

3.) Conversion: Going Inbound

There is no better way to start customer centric thinking than by implementing an inbound content strategy. It will help develop the muscle for customer centric philosophy and language. It will lead not only to a deeper understanding of your site visitors, but also to a better relationship with your prospects.

4.) Marketing Automation: The difference

For small businesses and solopreneurs, the potential of marketing automation cannot be overstated. Once accessible only to relatively large organizations and corporates, marketing automation platforms are now extremely affordable, and an excellent way to design and run sophisticated inbound content campaigns.

5.) Re-Frame the Opportunity: Converting visitors into prospects, prospects into leads

A re-design project is an ideal place to start, because it can provide you with a re-frame: Your site’s job is to convert site visitors into leads, by providing valuable content to your readership in exchange for contact info and email addresses.

Your site can become the central hub of a customer centric overall digital marketing strategy that supports your business goals (and reflects your brand of course).


I’d like to share the following FREE materials with you:

  • WebSite Re-design Checklist

    Optimized for inbound marketing, here is a check-list that you can use when first starting to plan a site-redesign

  • Marketing Automation Platform Price Comparison

    Each web re-design is an opportunity to consider how marketing automation can boost your site conversions and list generation. This price and platform comparison shows how affordable it is becoming.

  • Your Site Re-design Email Course

    Our completely free, completely non-technical site re-design email course. You will learn how to transform your site into a highly converting inbound content marketing hub.

design problems and solutions with our 3 part offer

Where can we send these
useful materials?




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