Keyword research, competitor keywords, blogging, content marketing, posting to Quora and Linkedin to generate traffic to your website… Wait a sec.
Have you looked at your main website lately?
Of all the ways you can get SEO to help your top-of-the-funnel traffic, I’m surprised over and over again that very few companies take advantage of the easiest and most logical win of all.
Real, fundamental SEO doesn’t require cutting-edge or tricky SEO smarts. It’s actually a really easy thing to do. And, it’s so often overlooked it’s almost appalling.
Take A Moment and Think Like a Search Engine
Search engines cruise your website and read its source code. They follow links around your domain, read title tags and body content, and try to figure out what your site is about.
There really isn’t any “SEO Magic” you can use on your site to boost it to the first page of Google. That takes time, branding and authority in your space.
However, you may be doing something gravely dangerous by not telling the search engines about your most prized information.
Are You Hurting Your Website SEO Rankings by Omission?
You may be shooting yourself in the foot by not including ultra-obvious content that the search engines WOULD LOVE to know about. Many companies simply don’t “talk” about what they do on their websites.
In this post, I’ll break down a recipe you can follow to uncover your most valuable content that will bring you the best leads and prospects — better than most, if not all, marketing channels.
Note: I decided to limit the focus of this article to SaaS websites. SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” (If you own or operate an e-commerce or marketplace website, there’s a lot more work to do. I would recommend reading this post and this post.) Also, this article will help anyone who has a website of around 50 webpages or less.
Step 1: Take a Current Inventory of Your Website
First, take an inventory of your site, which is a good thing to do every once in a while anyway. You really should know your way around your site and have a record of which content is buried where. Often, in an inventory, you’ll notice that some content needs to be updated or that important content is missing.
The easiest way to get started is to create a spreadsheet. As you dive into your site, list all the URLs you come across in one column. Then paste the title tag for that URL in the next column. You can find your title tag by viewing the source code of your webpage. It will look like this:
If you want to really get down and dirty, paste in the meta description and the H1 heading tag content. As an example, I started a spreadsheet for my website and listed the first three URLs I came across:
What you’ll end up doing is making a good SEO map of your site. You might discover you’re using the same meta description more than once or that your title tags could use some polishing.
There is a handy tool website called xml-sitemaps.com that will crawl your site and spit out a list of its URLs. If your site is really big, you’ll have to pay for the paid service that can handle crawling more URLs.
Step 2: Make a List of All Your Features and/or Services
The next step is to write down all your features and services. Get really granular and list everything your company does. For example, if you operate an online document proofreading and plagiarism checker, you might come up with the following list:
- Spell Check
- Grammar Check
- Plagiarism Internet Scan
- Microsoft Word to PDF Converting
- Professional Proofreading by a Human (Premium Service)
- International Character Encoding
- Document Collaboration (Multiple Reviewers and Comments)
Step 3: Insert All Your Features and/or Services into Your Spreadsheet
Insert all your features and/or services (below your existing URLs) in the Title Tag column of your spreadsheet. If you find any overlapping features or services, simply delete them from your list.
As you can probably tell, you’re now planning out new content for your website that will match search engine search queries that most likely will send you new business! Remember, organic search traffic generally is the best kind of traffic for your business. Behind almost every search, there is a person looking for what you have to offer.
Step 4: Create Written Content for Each New Section
Some might say that writing content for the new sections is the hard part. But it really isn’t! You should be super eager to create this content because it’s going to bring in free traffic every day that it sits live on the Internet. Nothing in this world (except good old word-of-mouth referrals) provides better ROI than a simple page sitting on the web. Write it once, and then let it do its job forever.
So, compose a solid one-page article for each feature and service you provide. Don’t worry about placing strategic keywords in your copy. Communicate normally, and deliver information that an internet searcher would find helpful. Contribute new content that hasn’t been posted anywhere else on the web. Don’t take the shortcut of duplicating content from other webpages.
Also, if you can insert useful images on these pages, that will help. If you do use images, be sure your webmaster or developer uses image alt tags to describe what the images are about when the webpage is uploaded to your website. This will help search engines like Google understand what the images are about.
Step 5: Create Title Tags for Each New Section
Each new webpage will be hosted on its own URL and should have its own unique title tag. The title tag is what shows up in Google search results.
Most likely, the features and services you’ve already put in your title tag column will work. However, think about how you want that title to look in the search engine. For example, do you want your result to say something cryptic like “Spell Check,” or would you rather see a result like “Online Document Spell Checker”?
In other words, go back and refine your new title tags so that you’re actually conducting real search engine marketing, not just keyword spamming :).
Chances are your title tags will work as your H1 headings. But, again, take a step back and think about what your page headings should look like when someone reads the page. There is a chance your title tags will be too long to double as normal-looking page headings. More importantly, they might not serve as effective headline copy.
The Moz homepage is a good example of an H1 heading that is different from the title tag. The title tag “Moz: SEO Software, Tools and Resources for Better Marketing” wouldn’t serve as compelling heading copy.
Your H1/page headings are where your copywriting skills really come in handy. A good page heading can lure visitors in and captivate them. So, don’t use your page headings for keyword spamming; use them for converting visitors into customers.
Step 6: Craft Unique Meta Descriptions for Each New Feature/Service Webpage
Meta descriptions are used by Google as the snippet of information that goes below the result provided by your title tag. A lot of people ignore this important (and free) piece of real estate. You get about 160 characters to work with here, so put on your search engine marketing hat again, and write intriguing copy that would make a search engine user click on your result.
Don’t worry about placing keywords in your meta description. Google doesn’t use your description as a ranking factor.
Step 7: Put It All Together
If you have a web developer or webmaster at your company, you can hand off your content and your spreadsheet to them, and they can take care of creating the new webpages.
But, before you do that, you should determine what the URLs will be for each new piece of content. You can create another column in your spreadsheet to keep track of these.
My general rule of thumb is to keep URLs short and sensible. So, for example, if we were going to release a new webpage on our Plagiarism Internet Scan feature for the online document proofreading and plagiarism checker business in the example in Step 2 above, I would create the URL: http://yourdomainname.com/plagiarism-internet-scan.
One thing to keep in mind is that really long URLs have a greater chance of being chopped off when tweeted or emailed around. So, the shorter the better.
If you’re going to be creating the new webpages yourself, here’s a general guide for where all your optimized content goes:
Obviously, you’ll need to insert your content into your current HTML template. This image just gives a general guide as to where each piece of content belongs.
Once your content is live on your website, make sure its navigable via text links from the home page. This will ensure that search engines will find it on their next pass through your website.
Finally, keep your eye on your analytics to see if new traffic starts to land on these pages in the coming months.
Step 8: Create a Site Map
A site map is simply a webpage that lists all the URLs on your website in one place. You’ll usually find a link to a site map in the footer of a website. One huge benefit of a site map is that it keeps content attached to your site by hyperlinks, regardless of who changes your site in the future.
After working at SaaS companies for years, I’ve noticed that a lot of great content gets lost or forgotten because of the fast-paced environment of the industry. Site maps can be lifesavers when it comes to keeping content alive for search engine visitors to find.
If your website already has a site map, be sure to include hyperlinks to your new content there.
Bonuses: A Little FAQ Hack and Use Cases
One way to keep expanding on this strategy is to create even more content for your website. An easy place to start is with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.
A lot of websites have a FAQ page, but they are rarely complete. The trick is to take each question (and its answer) and make a new URL (webpage) out of the question (and its answer). Use the question as the title tag content for the webpage, and write a long and detailed answer to the question. The more helpful you can be in your answer the better. Also, use images and videos to increase the value of these pages.
Finally, a lot of SaaS businesses have common use cases where their application shines. Creating unique webpages for each use case is another big business win. The people searching for that content are your best leads yet!
It’s common to see a lot of SaaS and business websites keep their content to a minimum. Their blogs might be huge, but their main marketing content is tiny or neglected. An easy win is to simply expand on the content you already have and create new webpages. You’ll end up ranking for more search queries and obtain more targeted traffic. Who doesn’t want that?