SEO is a fantastic tool for any webmaster hoping to make some money, and the most beautiful part of it, is the simple fact that it needn’t cost you anything.
This means that even the smallest start up or loneliest entrepreneur can compete with the big guns and get their site to number one as long as they’re smart and they’re willing to put in the work to get themselves there.
But there is one way in which SEO does require an investment, and that’s the investment of time. For many of us the prospect of building all those thousands of links, and of writing multiple thousands of words in on-site content is just far too daunting to get our heads around and this can lead to us never even beginning to do the work we need to get our sites to number one.
And what really compounds this problem is the fact that SEO is not guaranteed. In other words you can do all that work, put in all that effort, and then find out that you’re no better off for it because you’re still not making much money. And then there’s the matter of losing it all by making one bad decision – how do you know that a site redesign won’t just flush all that hard work down the toilet?
The solution then is to think like a business and to really test your strategies before you commit to doing any major work. Here we will look at how you can do that, and how you can be certain that you’re going down the right road before you start staying up all night writing content and sharing links.
Better Keyword Research
The main idea behind keyword research is to make sure that the keyword you’re targeting is actually popular before you aim to get to the top of the SERPs for that term. But even the Google Keyword tool doesn’t guarantee a keyword that will work for you, so instead why not try spending a week at the top of a few and then choose the best one?
How is this possible? Simple – by using AdWords to be the sponsored link on a few different search terms and to see which ones bring you the most traffic and the most clicks/sales. Just because ‘make money online’ is more popular than ‘work from home online’ (this is an example, I don’t know if that’s the case) doesn’t mean that the latter might not get you more clicks if it’s more closely related to what your blog is about. So by using an AdWords campaign to test the quality of the traffic on both links you can say with much more certainty which one you should aim for.
The way businesses work is to release multiple products and to keep on iterating their offering in the hope that something sticks. They can’t afford to put all their eggs in one basket and try a single approach, so instead they test the water using several different strategies and that then tells them which area to invest in.
This is precisely the way you should operate with your SEO and it’s precisely why you should be putting feelers out. Rather than focussing on one website, try having a couple of sites and blogs – at least initially – and use slightly different strategies for each (you might build lots of links on other blogs for one, and focus more on social marketing for the other)so that you can quickly see what works.
And if you don’t want to do that then another strategy is to just check the archives and look into your previous projects. You probably have some old blogs or sites, or at least one with lots of different pages, so try looking at what’s currently the most successful and then ask how you can emulate or exaggerate that success going forward.
Now that you’ve chosen your keyword and your SEO strategy, you should think about your web design and your AdSense layout. You want to have a layout that minimizes your bounce rate and maximizes your click through rate.
And here there are all kinds of tiny factors that can work in your favour or against you – things like the size of your font, the colour of your AdSense units, or the number and location of them around your pages.
So how do you scientifically test which combinations work best? It’s called split testing and it means using a PHP script to funnel your traffic into two slightly different versions of your site – an ‘A’ site and a ‘B’ site. The A site will be your website as it is currently, and the ‘B’ version will be the site with a minor tweak to one of the aforementioned factors. Now you simply look at the stats for each – which one has the most clicks or keeps your traffic for the longest – and you go with the site with the best results. This is a sure-fire way to iterate because it means you’re only launching changes that havealready been tested in a real environment.
By using this kind of thinking it’s possible to create a fool-proof system for developing and enhancing your site. Think like a business, look before you leap, and you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.