Building search engine traffic can test anyone’s patience. This strategic approach will help shorten that waiting game.
Two trillion. That’s how many searches were conducted on Google in 2016. The search giant processes more than 40,000 queries every second, adding up to billions of searches each day. Clearly, a strategic approach to your search engine is mandatory if you want to drive more traffic and leads.
The most common SEM strategy is, of course, SEO. If you follow the best practices, you should be able to rank for your keywords for free and drive plenty of traffic, but only if you can make it to the prime spots in the SERPs. To get maximum traffic and leads through SEO, you will need to appear in the top three spots in the search results. The sites that nail one of these top spots get more than 50% of the clicks.
Here is the problem though: Ranking with traditional SEO techniques alone takes a lot of time. Getting to the top spots for your keywords can take 3-6 months and even longer sometimes.
You Need to Get Traffic in the Meantime
Instead of just waiting it out, weave a smart PPC marketing strategy into your overall SEM strategy. SEO will help you in the long run, while PPC will help you generate traffic instantly. PPC can also help with gaining more backlinks. If done properly, those backlinks will also help to propel your site up in the search engine results.
Let’s look at a three-step approach to simultaneously run your SEO strategy along with a solid PPC strategy. This is the key to driving traffic now and building long-term SEO results later.
Dig Up Some Long Tail Keywords
When deciding what phrases you want to rank for, you can opt for two types of keywords: short tail keywords with only one to three words; or long tail keywords that contain several words.
The ideal situation for any site is to rank highly in the lucrative short tail keywords; they get searched more often, so ranking for these means more traffic. But more search volume also means there is more competition, and that will make it harder for you to rank well.
The alternative is to aim for good positions with long tail keywords. Fewer people will be searching using long tail, but that means your competition will be low and it will be easier to rank well.
Since long tail keywords make up 70% of search traffic, you can get a lot of traffic from the right keyword phrases. And, you can get a single page to rank for several long tail keywords, which drives even more traffic. As a bonus, the people who are searching using your long tail keywords will likely find your content highly relevant. And relevant content converts very well.
A quick tutorial on finding those long tail keywords…
Finding the right keywords takes a systematic approach; there are several free tools you can use to help. One of them is SEMrush’s keyword finder. Let’s take a look at how it works:
On the SEMrush homepage, type in your main keyword in the search field provided at the top. I used the main keyword ‘dog training’ as an example; you can use any term you want.
Click “Start Now” to see a report of results for that keyword. The report will show you things like search volume, the number of results (your competition for ranking), plus live updates on current paid search ad prices. This is also where you’ll find long tail keywords to consider. To get a list of relevant long tail keywords, click on the ‘Phrase Match’ and ‘Related Keywords’ tabs.
Under Phrase Match, you will find long tail keywords that contain the exact keywords you searched for. For example, the Phrase Match report for my search on “dog training” displays more than 9,000 keywords. From this list, I would be able to mine several useful long tail keywords.
One way to filter the results is by Competitive Density (look for the column heading “Com.”) You may want to target keywords with a lower competitive density; it will be easier for you to rank organically with these. You can also filter the results by Cost per Click (CPC), search volume, etc.
You will notice that the keywords in the Phrase Match report are very specific. A big benefit of using long tail keywords instead of short tail keywords is that you will only attract people looking for the precise solution that you offer. While you may not get as much volume, your traffic will be highly targeted, and that usually means better results.
With a less specific phrase like “dog training,” search volume will be high, but you have no idea what type of dog training help the searcher is really after. They might be looking to hire a trainer, searching for dog training supplies, or in need of information on how to do dog training on their own. On the other hand, when someone searches using a long tail keyword like “how to train a dog not to bark,” you know exactly want they want. This works two ways – it helps you drive more relevant traffic, and it helps create content that engages your target audience better.
Pro Tip: You can also find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Just enter their URL into the search bar. Knowing this can help you find the right keywords to target.
Once you have got a list of keywords you are confident you can rank in, it is time to start creating relevant content.
Three Tips to Create Good Content that Ranks Well
1. Write long form content.
The key to ranking in the top search results is to write long form content. Studies like this have shown that longer content fares better than shorter ones.
The ideal length would be 2,000+ words; the average length of articles on the first page of Google results is 1,890 words.
Create this rich, long content even if the competition for your long tail keyword is low right now. Competition could increase in the future, and ranking for keywords takes time. You want to take a long-term view here.
2. Have the right keyword density.
Keyword density is based on the number of time a keyword appears in every 100 words in your piece. For example, four keywords in 200 words equal a keyword density of 2%. Aim to keep your keyword density between 1% and 3%; less than 1% and your content won’t appear relevant. More than 3% and you run the risking of being nailed for keyword stuffing.
To get the best results from your keywords, you will want them in prominent places like your headline, in sub-headings, in the first paragraph and several other strategic spots throughout the article. And of course, make sure you add your long tails to the meta description and page description.
Pro Tip: A great tool to help you measure keyword density on your blog posts is Yoast SEO. This also makes it easy to add the keywords to the meta data. And remember, you’re not just writing for the search engines. Use Yoast’s readability scorer to improve the reader’s experience.
3. Add images to improve exposure.
Images are really important to your link building strategy. According to MDG Advertising research, content that has images gets 94% more total views than content without. Consider adding screenshots, stock images, and you could create some of your own original images. Tools like Canva can help you create quality graphics in minutes, without any design experience required.
Once your post is ready, you can publish it and begin promoting it to attract shares and start building those all-important backlinks.
Use Dynamic Search Ads
Now that you have found your target long tail keywords, and published some awesome content built around them, the waiting begins. It is going to take a while before you rank high enough to start drawing a decent amount of traffic.
In the meantime, start driving traffic right away to your content, using a form of PPC called Dynamic Search Ads.
These ads are automatically created by Google to promote the content that is already published on your site. Google will start the process by crawling through your site and examining your content. Then they will match keyword searches with the related headlines and content on your site, and automatically create ads to promote them.
Pro Tip: You can choose to omit certain pages from the process if you don’t want to drive traffic to them. For example, if your About Us page doesn’t have any conversion potential, don’t waste time and money driving traffic to it.
These Dynamic Search Ads will help drive traffic to your content before it begins to rank organically. This can also help build backlinks quicker, as bloggers usually like to link to quality content that appears to get good traffic and ranks higher in the search results. This will boost your organic results too, giving you a double dose of benefits.
To Create Your Dynamic Search Ad:
1. Go to your Google AdWords dashboard and then to the Campaigns tab and create a campaign.
2. Next, give the campaign a name, choose the type as ‘Search Network Only’ and then choose ‘Dynamic Search Ads’:
3. Next, add your website URL, choose your language, and select your targeting source:
4. In the next step, you will choose your ad targeting options. You can choose to target categories, specific pages on your site, or all site pages:
5. After that you can choose how you would like the ad to appear:
6. Complete the rest of the step to finish setting up your DSA campaign. Your content should start gaining traffic and building backlinks from there.
Pro Tip: Dynamic Search Ads can be a great way to starting driving traffic and building backlinks. But be aware that digital ad fraud will take a hefty bite out of your budget.
As much a third of your ad budget could be wasted due to the growing threat of digital ad fraud. Business losses from ad bot fraud are expected to reach a staggering $16.4 billion in 2017.
That fraud will take a huge toll on your ROI, but it can be prevented by making sure only legitimate web users are viewing our ads. Protect the investment you are making in ads by using an ad fraud protection tool like ClickCease.
This kind of protection works in several ways to protect your ad spend:
- It monitors your ad to keep blacklisted IPs, proxy servers, and bad hosts at bay.
- Once it detects a fraudulent click, it automatically hides your ad so they can’t click again.
- It also files refund reports to Google, helping you get a refund on any fraudulent clicks.
- It offers built-in reporting so you can see exactly where your ad spend is going, and know that you aren’t falling victim to fraud.
SEO and PPC
Successful search engine marketing starts with a strategic balance of SEO and PPC to drive more website traffic. Base your organic SEO strategy on building eventual traffic with long tail keywords and great copy. And while you wait for the organic results to build, use PPC ads in the form of Dynamic Search Ads to drive traffic and attract backlinks in the short term.
Add a good conversion rate optimization strategy to the mix, and all your hard work will pay off in increased traffic, better conversions, and a better bottom line.
How do you find the perfect balance with PPC and SEO? Please leave your comments below.