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Important Reasons to Leverage Case Studies for Your SEO in 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 6.45.27 AMYou have come across it. In fact, you have been told this is the only way out for your website to rake in a high return on investment (ROI). Yes, that is how important search engine optimization (SEO) has become in online marketing.

But there is a catch; most website owners and administrators have not yet grasped the art of SEO. It is no wonder then that while millions of sites exist, only a few make a mark in their particular niche. Indeed, there is a good reason why most SEO consultants don’t provide solid case studies. They have nothing concrete to show potential clients.  

Like any other business practice that will up your ROI, you need to appreciate the place of relevant case studies when looking for SEO strategists. Moreover, you need to have more insight on what strategies will be used to increase your site’s visibility and the duration of the campaign.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Brief

You might have basics on SEO but why is your website not ranking on the first page of search engine result pages (SERPs)?  As a website admin, it behooves on you to appreciate what your SEO expert will be doing for you. Not only will you work more seamlessly as a team, you will be guaranteed better results.

But first things first, when you think about search engine optimization, you need to wipe away the idea that you can use shortcuts. About 7 years back, paid SEO was all the rage but with Yahoo, Google and Bing tightening the noose, you must be ready to invest in organic search engine results.

SEO marketing is a discipline driven by professionals who work towards improving your site’s visibility organically. These are experts who have the technical and creative expertise to revolutionize your website by drawing quality traffic thus increasing sales conversion. With more relevant traffic you are bound to witness better sales and your ranking on search engines results will also improve.

What SEO is not

Whatever your consultant tells you, remember there are no two ways about increasing visibility for your website. In fact, you need to remember that SEO is not:

  • Social media: Most consultants will help you gain numbers on social media but if these followers are not acquired naturally, they will fall off the radar and you will be left fighting once more to gain visibility. Social media integration is just one technique for optimizing your website for search engines.
  • Multiple links to your website: This is the pitfall most site administrators fall into.  If your SEO expert insists that any link is a good link, then you are risking your investment. Google and other search engines are now more aware of paid links than ever before.  You will lose your ranking and it will take a lot of time to get back on your feet.
  • A one-off investment: The best search engine optimization campaign should not be an end in itself. Your SEO specialists must emphasize that this is an ongoing project because content must be updated, broken links must be deleted or repaired, and keyword optimization must continue as competition becomes stiffer.
  • DIY project: You might have some IT skills but these are not enough to run a comprehensive SEO campaign. A lot of time and expertise is needed and only a specialist in SEO can help you achieve better ranking.

What Happens Behind the Scenes in SEO?

According to Internet Live Stats, there are 3.275 billion internet users. This highlights the latent potential for search engines. These search engines serve as the traditional directories and if your website doesn’t appear on the first page for the keyword you are targeting, you are in for a hard time.

An SEO expert works comprehensively on your site though you might not have the chance to watch what is happening. Nevertheless, you will get regular reports on what is happening especially when it comes to analytical data showing progress being made through the project.

Some of the specific tasks carried out by these experts include:

  • Site content and architecture review to detect all weak areas.
  • Strategizing on the SEO campaign including giving recommendations on web development and techniques to raise your site’s ranking.
  • Keyword research and optimization to ensure you use the best keywords and phrases for your target niche market.
  • On-page and off-page optimization depending on the evaluation results of your site.

Why You Need to Look for SEO Case Studies

There is a lot more these professionals can offer your website but you need to be wary if they are just providing ranking reports. A good example of a case study that focuses on organic search result was one carried out by Nike Golf during the 2012 season. The goal was to increase visibility but there is a catch here; visibility without sales would not make any sense.

To ensure more sales for the golfing brand, the SEO campaign focused on a keyword strategy by optimizing Meta descriptions, page titles and internal links from blogs.  By leveraging on data, testing, and analysis, it became possible to find a keyword that would actually increase conversion.

The importance of research-driven content optimization proved effective in achieving business goals of Nike Golf. With 250% gain in visitors from non-branded searches, the company was guaranteed more sales.

The lesson? Most SEO campaigns which target branded keywords actually fail though you will find impressive data in the ranking report. These numbers, however, don’t translate into high sales conversion. What’s more, the high ranking you might be looking for might take months to achieve and this might only happen when the top page gets penalized.

These rankings also don’t indicate whether there is money being made in the SEO campaign. In essence, when looking for search engine optimization strategists, make sure you ask for case studies that actually prove these professionals can help your website make money.

Well, 2016 is here and if you want to make a mark using your website, then start looking for solid case studies to prove that your consultant can achieve the results you want.

 

Lalit Sharma is an SEO consultant who runs an SEO house called Ranking By SEO. He is specialized in link building and other SEO related activities. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+ and his personal blog.

The Two Places Your Competitors are Not Mining for Niche Keywords

image 2How exactly do you go about keyword research? The way I see it, there are 2 different workflows.

The first follows this process:

Market research -> Content creation -> Keyword research -> Optimization

The second looks more like this:

Market research -> Keyword research -> Content creation

In my experience, the second way of doing it is so much better. Why? I’ll explain.

  1. You generate content ideas through research
  2. It’s a shorter process (one less step)
  3. You sit down to write content with a keyword in mind
  4. You don’t have to reshuffle your writing to include keywords

However, if you want to do it the more efficient way (where the keyword informs your content creation process), you’ll have to prepare a few things first.

You’ll need an idea of what your market wants. The longer you’ve been in business, the more obvious this is. The more competitors you have, the more obvious this is.

This isn’t a guide for finding out what your audience wants, but it does tell you how to target them once you know.

The reason it’s important to get a grasp of your target keywords is to maximize traffic through organic search. This means you’re going to want to phrase your content in the same way people speak, think and search.

For the sake of an example, let’s say you’re in the gold panning niche. You have a great product in that market, and it’s your job to get people to buy it. You’re no gold panner, and you don’t have much of a clue what your audience is like.

Where do you start? There are two big communities on the internet that are (excuse me) gold mines for this sort of information.

Let’s take a look at what they are, and how you can use them as a tool.

Step 0: Laying the foundations of niche keyword research

The first thing I’d do after I’d picked my niche (gold panning, in this case) would be to find out what other names it goes by.

Personally, I’ve heard it called panhandling and prospecting but I’m not in with the crowd so I can’t really be sure. That brings us to our first step:

Create a keyword mindmap

Using the super-fast Mindmup, create a mindmap and write down terms and fields you already know, associated with your niche.

Here’s what I came up with for gold panning:

image1

Is that useful, or 100% correct? I’ve got no idea at this point, but it’s a start.

Quick tip: You can use Mindmup mostly with just the keyboard. Press Enter to edit the text in a box, Enter again to create a new box connected to the one you have selected, or Tab to create a sub box.

Google your keyword (obviously)

You won’t find enough about your niche without Google. In 5 seconds, I confirmed my idea that ‘Gold panning’ and ‘Gold prospecting’ are related terms:

image 3

Head over to Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a fantastic resource for keyword research because related topics are grouped together logically, linked early in the article and you can find out about your target market.
image 5

Flesh out your mind map as you go

I spent around 10 minutes browsing through Wikipedia and adding ideas to the mindmap as I went, under the category of which page I followed to get there. That way I create a list of categories and subcategories, like this:

image 4

Is it complete, perfect or 100% correct? Again, I have no idea! It doesn’t have to be. This is the research process.

Where next?

Step 1: Using Quora search to find niche keywords

Now you have an idea of the search terms you could use to get niche keyword ideas for content, it’s time to head over to Quora.

Quora can be used to find out what the people behind the keywords care about. This will link your keywords to content ideas, which, if targeted and promoted properly, lead customers to your site.

So, start by searching your keywords. You’ll see that your options are divided into two categories: Topics and Search.

image 6

Topic includes questions related to your term, but not necessarily with the exact term in the title. It’s very useful to find subjects related to your niche.

Search shows only questions with exact matches to your keyword in the title or description. It’s best for really focusing in on a subject once you’ve got a target keyword and finding what the market cares about.

Here are two interesting questions found in Search, about the ‘Where’ and ‘What’ of panning for precious materials.

image 7

This gives you ideas, but it doesn’t necessarily prove that the keywords will be profitable. Don’t worry so much about that for now, just continue noting down interesting ideas, phrases and potential keywords you want to target.

There are still more places to look…

Step 2: Find Subreddits packed with your target market

We’ve talked at length before about how reddit is a powerful resource for marketing, but until recently I didn’t know to what extent.

As well as being a platform for being heard, it’s a great place to just listen.

To take advantage of this huge database of public knowledge, you need to find where your target market hangs out. A quick Google search should do it:

 

image 8There we have 2 places, /r/prospecting and /r/goldpanning. It’s much better to search ‘reddit + keyword’ in Google because reddit itself searches deeply in the comments and drags up a lot of irrelevant stuff. For example, I didn’t even manage to find these subreddits when I was looking for them through reddit search. I mostly got results about Minecraft…

Here’s the inside of /r/prospecting:

image 9

Right away, we see some interesting topics our niche cares about. From this, I’d start noting down potential keywords and drafting article titles:

  • How to Know if Your Panned Gold is Real
  • Are You Panning The Real Thing? How to ID Gold
  • Bazooka Gold Trap Review
  • Prospecting in [Area Name] — Is It Worth It?

Step 3: Make sense of it all in a spreadsheet

Now begins the less fun, more meticulous part of the process. We’re almost out of the exploratory brainstorming stages and starting to get serious. Take the keywords out of your mindmap (keep that for later because it represents your thought process and hierarchy of topics) and paste them into a spreadsheet.

image 11

Copy the keywords into Google Keyword Planner to get data on the volume and competition, like this:

image 10

Grab the results out of GKP by hitting the ‘Download’ button, and then copy the data into your sheet.

These are your seed keywords. They’re what you use to find long-tail, more specific keywords by launching into a longer and more involved keyword process based on the early research outlined here.

Ready to get started? I’m going to have to hand you over to a checklist I wrote on the keyword research process.

The important thing to remember is that this is the very start of the process. If you want to generate a real list of hundreds of target keywords to give you countless landing page and blog post ideas, you should use the checklist above to do that.

I’ve found that using these networks to generate your seeds is much better than just doing it off the top of your head.

Do you have any tips for finding niche keywords? Let me know in the comments.

 

benjamin brandallBenjamin Brandall is a content crafter for Process Street and a part time video game geek turned full-time blogger, feeding an ever-growing addiction for all things marketing. Find him on Twitter here.