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SEO 101 for Online Merchants. Part 4: Creating Content

This is the last installment of the SEO 101 Series with John Lincoln.

We discuss the grunt work of Search Engine Optimization — writing content. Learn what to write about on your website, how long it should be and how often should you do it.

Previous episodes of the series:

Transcript

Jesse: Hey guys, Jesse Ness here with the Ecwid E-Commerce show, here with my co-host…

Richard: Richard Otey, how are you doing, Jess?

Jesse: I’m great, great! We back with our regular expert contributor — John Lincoln with Ignite Visibility.

John: Hey, guys. Thanks for having me back again.

Jesse: Absolutely. So, for people who are just tuned into this podcast without the previous ones, John was named the search marketer of the year by Search Engine Land and their company was the number one ranked SEO company by clutch.co.

So, we’ve been talking about SEO, kind of a series of SEO 101, basically, we’ve talked about keyword research, optimizing a page and attracting backlinks. So, now we’re going to talk about, so what’s the easiest way to attract backlinks blogging and content creation. John, I imagine you’ve written a couple blogs in your past?

John: I’ve written a lot of blogs, yeah, a ton.

Jesse: So, what advice would you give to new merchants on, you know, the first couple blogs to start? Let’s start there and then we’ll come back to “why would you do that.”

John: Yeah, so I’ve probably published 5000 to 10000 articles, and we’ve built in a small, not the entire business, but a large part of it, at Ignite just through a blog, right. I mean, we’ve got about 80,000 visitors a month now, and it’s really important for business, it gets us to win awards, it gets us ranking for keywords, it gets people to CSS thought leaders and the space, it gets people to come in and click on things and convert, and this is a strategy that definitely really works.

The issue is got more competitive over the last four, five years and, you know, people really know that content creation is something that can grow a business online. So, you know, it’s kind of like where do you start, well, you know, the first thing you need is to install a blog, right, and to make sure that your URLs are set up correctly. So, if you’re on example.com and you go to /blog, your blogs are there, you want it on a directory, instead of a subdomain, it should be blog.example.com. Anyone your blog post to, just have a clean URL with the titles and, so it’s example.com/blog/blogtitle, right. You don’t want numbers in there, you don’t want URL parameters, URL parameters are, like, question marks and stuff like that. So, get that set up right and then…

Jesse: And, John, so most site builders, you know, with Ecwid, in particular, a lot of people are on WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace. Most of these site builders have a built-in blog, right? Would you recommend to just start there?

John: Yeah, yeah! Any blogging platform is fine. There is some of a little bit more towards the other, but you can work with just about anything. It’s just a matter of making sure you can get a couple things done, like the URLs, like having titles descriptions, headings.

A sidebar really important I was going to kind of go there I think I see that as a huge mistake like people will make a blog and then their sidebars are just empty. What we don’t realize is that these are the two most important things in a blog: it’s your sidebar and then to have pop-ups, because that’s how you get people to sign up one or the other. I know not everybody likes pop-ups. But anyways, so, the reason the sidebars are important is because that’s your only chance for somebody to come in and see where the heck they are on the internet, you know. They might Google, you know, “how to set up a blog,” for example and then you come in there you tell him, but if you don’t have a little picture of their of yourself or your company, then you just lost a huge opportunity. So, anyways see all that stuff out and my favorite way to do it is to have a little pitch, and then have a couple calls to action, try to get him into a newsletter, subscribe to your social media and get them to see your top posts of all time on that blog, so you can increase your page count. So, many clicks on at, you have more page views, and then you get into categories, and categories that you have on the Blog and then usually a search bar, that’s a good way to go about doing that, so.

Richard: When it comes to blogging, John, is it more important to go really deep on that blog or multiple blog posts?

John: Not sure if I understand that.

Richard: So, when we were referencing back to product pages, having a certain number of words on it, the category page and homepage… Would you see a reason for someone to go super broad and long on a blog post, you here a lot about content upgrades, and people are trying to get rid of poor performing blog post and kind of keep adding. You hear so many contradictory things, like, if they’re just starting, should they go really deep on a subject or, what do you recommend if they’re just getting started?

John: So, you just hit probably the biggest question in content marketing. I think about it like this, if I want this to rank inside of Google, it’s got to be a thousand words or more. And really ideal it’s about 2,000 words, and if it’s a really, really, really competitive topic, you might want to go 3,000 to 10,000 words, honestly. But, if it’s just a news thing you don’t need it to be really long, right, and you can show up in Google news for that potentially or, maybe, even the stories area. There are some technical things you do there. But the specific answer is, it can be short if it’s just something for your readers and if it’s just news for, like, a newsletter, but if you really wanted to ranking Google, you got to be trying to hit over a thousand words, unless it’s a really, really niche, like, search term that you’re going after, or it’s a really, really niche topic, because basically competition is all, like, the longer it is, the better chance you have and if it’s less competitive you can have a shorter post there.

What happens is a lot of people turn out a bunch of really small, short, low-quality blogs that don’t have a lot of substance. And then Google recognizes that, and they’re just trying to go after keywords they’re ranking for anything, you just wasted a ton of time. For us on Ignite everything that we do and everything we try to do for clients is a thousand words or more, and we’re publishing, you know, daily, and it’s something I’ve done because it’s been a great investment for the business. I wish I would have started this level day one, honestly. I mean now to 80,000 visitors a month by this time, next year will be over 200,000 visitors a month, and our clients are seeing it too, you know, we have some clients per doing 40 50 pages of content a month for, and, you know, it really works, but it’s quality, and it can be a big an issue. If you’re just getting started, start small, one blog a week, thousand words.

Richard: So, what I’m hearing is “go deep on the thing that you wanted to be known for,” right? So, your authorities of ten thousand words.

John: Yeah, that’s right.

Richard: And then, when you want to be top of mind still, come in and don’t be afraid to talk about news or what’s going on in the industry. That’s your little ancillary staff, that you out on, so they’re not overthinking it but they can get started and just focus on what they’re good at.

John: Yeah, that’s how it works. It’s like, if it’s a news thing, get something out quick, boom. You can always go back and add it later if you really want to, but get it out quick, be seen as the expert. If it’s something you want to rank for, make it long.

Jesse: It makes sense for some, you know, the setup and for some difficult terms. But if I’m a new guy, just starting my store, and I’m afraid of blogging, afraid of writing, what do I write about?

John: So, what you write about is whatever you want your users to see you as an authority in, as a subject matter expert in, and there’s kind of, you know, a couple different ways to go about it. One: you want to be a subject matter expert, you want to write on the industry, you want people to feel that passion, you want to do it just outside SEO, you want people to see you as a thought leader, they’re like “oh, there’s some soul behind this website”, right. This guys cranks in stuff out, he cares about it, right, and because of that, it humanizes the brand online, they see your picture and, like “I want to buy from him,” right. So, that’s the way to do it, and then, you know, the next step is if you really want to rank for that stuff, put your competitor at SEMRush, try to find out all the terms that he’s ranking for, and write blog posts on that, then kind of incorporate those terms but don’t compete with the other sections of your website, like, your categories and stuff.

Jesse: So, similar but not copied, obviously.

John: No you don’t want to copy, but put your spin on it and make it better.

Jesse: That’s awesome! So, blogging is a must do for SEO, you know. If you guys have a writer’s blog, you pretty much just have to get over it. John, you’ve written 5,000?

John: Yeah, 5,000 to 10,000 at this point. It’s a lot of blogs.

Jesse: So, guys you just have to do number one, get to number one. Alright, thanks, John, this is Jesse Ness with the Ecwid e-commerce show, for more information on Ecwid, check out ecwid.com, and for more on Ignite Visibility — ignitevisibility.com. Thank you!

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