This is a guest post by Derek Clark. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Earlier this year I wrote a post about the stimulus package that passed Congress in February. I titled the post Government Stimulus Package because I thought the only thing it was stimulating was government. I got lucky with this, because apparently a lot of people searched for the phrase “government stimulus package” to learn about what was in it.
The post did ok on Digg and Reddit, nothing spectacular but it brought in some traffic. It may have gotten a few other links, but not a ton. A few days after the post was published, I noticed that I was getting some traffic the search engines. The post was on the front page of Google, around 6 or so for the keyword phrase “government stimulus package.” This is the first step in improving your SERPs.
1. Look at Your Stats
Find out which pages you are getting traffic to from the search engines and what keywords are being used to get there. This is where we need to focus. Improving your ranking for a term from 7429 to 43 takes your traffic from 0 to 0. If you can improve from 9 to 1, you will see a huge increase in traffic if it is a phrase that people are searching for.
Now that we have a few pages that are getting some traffic and the keywords they are getting it from, we have to do a little keyword research.
2. Keyword Research
The first step is to find out which phrases we want to target. Look at the keywords that are getting the most traffic and find out where you currently rank. You could use your web analytics program for this, and then check the rankings on Google.
At this point, you can also use a keyword search tool to find out how much traffic each of these phrases gets.
Now we want to focus our efforts on the terms we rank the highest for that get the most search traffic.
3. Internal SEO
Have you ever written anything similar to this before? Go through your archives and find where you have mentioned this topic before. Update the old article with a link to the new one using the keywords you are trying to rank for.
If this is a topic that people want to know more about, consider writing another post or two expanding on the first one. In each new post, link to the original article with one of the keyword phrases you are targeting.
Next, go back to the post you are hoping to rank higher. Is the keyword already in the article? Consider making it bold. Is there a section where the phrase would make a good header? Consider adding it. Don’t stuff the article full of keywords as you still want the people that come to enjoy your writing. However, if these changes can be made without affecting the quality, they may help improve your ranking a little bit.
These things do two things. They show the search engines what your pages are about (hopefully the keywords you are targeting) and they show them that they are important pages. The more links you have pointing to the page, the more important you are making it in Google’s eyes.
4. Watch your Rankings and Traffic Surge
I went back to my post and made the keyword bold when I used it. Then I went through the archives and found another post that talked about the stimulus package and added a link to the new post. I also wrote a few more articles in the following weeks that talked about the stimulus package, so I linked back in each of those as well. The result? I moved up to #1 in Google for the phrase “government stimulus package” before it passed. It brought thousands of visitors to my blog, and the week that the bill passed is my highest traffic week ever.
The part of this that is really powerful is that all of this was done several days after the article was posted. The regular readers had read it already, and anyone who was going to link to it already had. I was then able to move from #6 to #1 in Google simply by telling Google what the page was about and that I thought it was important. Never underestimate the power of linking to yourself internally.
I have since dropped behind irs.gov and recovery.gov, but that post has been viewed more times than any other. It also gave me a valuable lesson in SEO that has helped increase my search traffic to many other posts as well.
Derek Clark blogs about conservative politics at Geek Politics. You can also follow him on Twitter @clarky07.