When it comes to keyword research, Google keyword finder gives you results for Google ads, not what people are searching. SEMRush tells you not only what people are searching, but how many people are searching for it, and how many results there are for that keyword or keyword phrase.
SEMRush keyword tool
Most of my time on SEMRush is searching for the best keyword or keyword phrase to use in a blog post. To see how I do that, watch this video.
From time to time I’ll see how my already selected keywords are doing. SEMRush makes it easy to see how people are finding your site and certain pages in a search.
I can also see what keywords my competition is ranking for. Some businesses use this information to try to “take” those keywords from their competitor.
If you want to know where your backlinks are, you can find that out here, in addition to creating reports and graphs to see and understand everything a little better. If you manage a blog on a client’s website, this is a GREAT tool.
Oh yeah, then there’s that thing it does that audits your entire website and tells you what’s not working and how to fix it. That’s kind of important, right?
Like most online services, there are different levels of pricing. SEMRush is no different. When I started, I tried the free version, but it didn’t offer enough. I wanted more, so I paid $70 a month. Because I’m a sucker for a deal, I ended up paying for a full year with a discount.
SEMRush pricing goes all the way up to $400 per month.
Yes, SEO for Dummies is a book. (I love the “for Dummies” books.) I took a look at it when I was at the library the other day for the sake of this blog post… and it’s good! This one, in particular, is NINE books in one.
I’ve learned a lot about SEO from Ashley Faulkes at Mad Lemmings and Brandon Gaille at the Blog Millionaire. Brandon is the one who introduced me to SEMRush which increased the amount of traffic to both of my blogs.
SEO for Dummies is nine books in one, so I can only go over a small fraction of it here. Here are the five biggest takeaways and strategies you can put into action TODAY. (Yes, you can do it on your own. For more on acting as your own SEO consultant, click here.)
1. Search Engine
This is the foundation of everything. The search engine. Google is one. (The biggest one.) YouTube is one. Even Pinterest is one. If you want to be found on a search engine, you need to let it know you are special and worthy of being found.
If you want a site like Google to find you and tell others about you, you need to tell them what your site is about. You can do this by putting keywords on your page, in the right place. What’s the right place?
In the URL
In the headline
In the description
In the headings and subheadings
In the image and file names
So, you think your website and the pages on it are amazing but do other people? This matters! When other people link to your site, that sends a message to Google that you are in demand, so they should show your content to more people… aka, moving you up higher in search results.
My favorite way to get links on other sites is through media relations. This is where I thrive. As a former TV reporter and anchor, I know how the media works – that includes online media. I don’t only earn this kind of exposure for clients, but I do it for myself.
Every time I earn a client or myself exposure, I’m getting better SEO. Even if something is on TV, in print, or on a podcast, nine times out of 10 it will end up online.
If you’re a local business and are only focused on getting local leads online, Google will set you up for success via snail mail. Yes, it actually sends you a postcard to a physical address with a code. You put that code into Google and voila – you’re showing up locally!
5. Sitemap and Webmaster
Remember how I said you need other pages to link to yours to make you look good? Well, you need to tell Google how special you are yourself. You can’t only rely on others to do it for it. Sitemap and Webmaster is a little too techy for me to get into, but you need to link your website with these tools. Google will reward you.
Regardless of your SEO knowledge, I suggested checking out SEO for Dummies… or swinging by the library for a skim.
What is the Yoast SEO plugin (besides the leading SEO plugin on WordPress)? It basically keeps you on track for a certain keyword you select. If you select the right keyword, this is amazing.
BEFORE you use the Yoast SEO Plugin, do this!
I use SEMRush to ensure I’m using a keyword that people are searching and that there’s not a lot of competition for. If you’re not using a keyword that is searched a lot with little competition, this won’t work. Keyword research is step #1!
For more on how you can use SEMRush and become your own SEO consultant, click here. I’ve been putting these strategies work for a few months now and have seen traffic to my websites, this one and my lifestyle blog, Christina All Day, skyrocket.
The plugin will tell you you’re on the wrong track with a red light, let you know you can fix some things with a yellow light, and when you’re green – you’re good to go! The goal is to get all the lights green and Yoast SEO tells you exactly what to do to get there. (Scroll down to see an example.)
For example, the plugin will tell you if you’ve used the keyword too much or not enough. It’ll tell you if you need to add headlines or more words to the blog post.
Remember, you pick the keyword for the blog post, so make sure you do your research. Many people use the Google keyword planner for this. I prefer SEMRush because it’s more accurate. Click here to read more about how I conduct my keyword research.
If you want to see how I use the Yoast SEO plugin, go behind the scenes with me on my blog by watching the video above.
It’s not easy to be found in a Google search. I give it up to anyone who lands the first spot on page one. Bravo.
While that sounds like an incredible task, it can be done. I did with a post on my lifestyle blog, Mascara Maven. To find it, search “CPK butter cake recipe.” That’s it in the first spot. It didn’t start there. Many things helped get it there. (Yes, it is possible to act as your own SEO consultant.)
While catchy headlines are fun and make some people want to click, they are not SEO friendly. People don’t Google things in a creative way to find what they’re looking for. They Google the most simple, basic thing. They search for what they want. Your headline, at least part of it, should reflect that.
2. Meta description
What is a meta description? It’s the text under the headline that explains what the blog post or article is about. Everything I just mentioned about headlines, applies here too. You want to make sure the keyword or phrase you want to rank for is here, but in a bit more detail. You have enough room for one to two sentences. Here, you have more space to get creative and tease to get a click.
3. Headers to make your content easy to read
While keywords are important, there is more to SEO than just using words people are searching for. One factor includes making sure your content looks good and is easy to read. Because a lot of people skim blog posts and articles, headers and subheaders make a big difference. There are seven in this blog post!
It’s important to share other content within yours. You can do this by linking to both your other content or someone else’s content. You should link to your content because it keeps people on your website longer while you’re sharing more of your expertise. If you’re referencing other resources, it helps to link to them as well.
For example, in this blog post, I link to SEMRush because I’m writing about SEO and I use SEMRush for keyword research and more.
You can post amazing things online every day, but Google will not recognize your website as an important one if no one else is linking to it. My favorite method of earning backlinks is media relations. (To learn how to start earning publicity online, click here and join my free course.)
By promoting yourself as an expert in your industry to various media outlets, you can earn mentions that will increase your domain authority and help your search engine optimization.
What is domain authority? The title explains it – it’s how much authority your domain has. Is it new or old? Do you get a little bit of traffic or a lot of traffic? Is your site simple or complex? Sites that have a lot of traffic and a lot of backlinks have a higher domain authority than those that don’t.
6. Alt titles and filenames
What you name your images matter. Use those keywords you found in your research and title your images and files with them. But, you’re not done yet. Use other variation of those keywords as an “alt title” during your upload. Yes, these come up in a Google search too!
7. Using variations of targeted keywords
Just like I mentioned before, you want to use a variety of keywords. The main keyword you want to rank for should be in your headline, URL, meta description, and throughout your blog post or article. But in your research, you probably found other variations of the keywords as well. Use those to name images, files, and sprinkle throughout your written content.
Since five of these SEO best practices included keywords, it’s important to do keyword research. A keyword won’t do you any good if it’s the wrong one. To ensure the keywords I’m using are being searched online and have little competition, I use SEMRush. For more on SEMRush, click here.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is necessary for any business to attract traffic to its website. SEO keeps your business from getting lost in the billions of websites that pop up on search engines like Google and it helps put your business front and center.
SEO is constantly changing and updating, so it’s necessary to hire an SEO consultant… or act as your own SEO consultant!
Why you need an SEO Consultant… even if it’s you!
Search engine algorithms make it difficult to drive traffic to your website if you don’t understand them. Some businesses rely solely on having great content, but it isn’t always enough.
According to BrightEdge internal data, 83 percent of the traffic from search engines comes from SEO, and 17 percent from paid search.
Search engines are the main form of finding information, so it’s important to know how to make sure visitors can find your site.
SEO research also helps you to understand what users are searching for, so you can use that information to your benefit when creating content. When I started using SEMRush to research keyword, traffic to both of my blogs increased.
Before doing actual research, my research consisted of me asking myself, “If I were searching for something like this, what would I Google?” While this is a good start and I have been lucky with a couple posts ranking on the first page of Google, it’s not very strategic.
With SEMRush, I’m about to see exactly what’s being searched, how many people are searching it, and how many results there are. I can also see what I’m currently ranking for on my website… and what my competitors are ranking for!
Keywords are necessary to gain traffic. Using keyword research tools, like SEMRush, help you to figure out which keywords and phrases to use. To attract your ideal audience
Use specific keyword or phrases in your blog title, URL, headline, and sub headlines.
Use specific keyword or phrases in the meta description of your website pages.
Use specific keyword or phrases that flow naturally on your website.
Use specific keyword or phrases to name the images on your site.
Use specific keyword or phrases to name the alt-text of the images on your site.
Based on my research, I use one keyword or phrase to focus on and include other, related keywords or phrases throughout the blog post and/or website.
At the end of the day, SEO will not work for your business unless you are producing quality content. If your content satisfies the needs of users who find your website, this will improve your rankings on search engines. Yes, Google is smart and can figure that out.
Quality content, combined with great SEO, increases your chances of getting a higher ranking.
3. Earn Media Exposure Online
Obviously, this is my favorite one… because it’s all about earning exposure online! When other sites link back to yours, that tells Google your website is special and it should rank higher. The bigger and better the website that links to you, the better.
If you want to learn how to earn media exposure and link backs online, click here and take my free email course designed to help you earn those backlinks online. Even if they media exposure isn’t online at first, say it’s on TV or in the local newspaper, it almost always ends up online… and that’s great for your SEO!
4. Take Advantage of New Trends
Google is always growing its use of certain trends. Educating yourself on them and executing what you learn is vital to gain some SEO clarity… especially in 2017.
The tech giant has increased its usage of snippets, a summary of an answer from a website displayed on top of the results page, for user searches. Using bullet points on your website increases the chances of your website being chosen to be used as a snippet on Google.
Another growing trend on Google is users opting for longer, more specific search queries when looking for something. This is beneficial for your business because it makes it easier for you to attract the users that you want. By optimizing your content and your keywords to fit those search queries, you’re more likely to gain traffic and boost your ranking.
There’s also a growing popularity of using voice command systems such as Siri or Ok Google. Create unique, specific content that is more complex than a simple snippet at the top of the results page to attract traffic to your page.
To learn more about SEMRush and how it can help you increase traffic to your website, click here.
Portions of this post were submitted by Farah Zamora, a journalism student at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Look at what Facebook did. If I want to reach my Facebook followers, I need to pay Facebook lots of money. Soon, it’ll be the same on Instagram. On Twitter, I have 20 minutes to reach my following. After that, I’m lost in the newsfeed.
When it comes to email marketing, there is no right or wrong. Most businesses are like that. However, I do believe there are some strategies we should all be mindful of in order to ensure the people on our email list are consistently receiving content they signed up for. (If you want to get more people on your email list, read this.)
Did you notice that word? Consistently. That’s important. You can’t just send your email list something once, then disappear for a few months. If you’re going to send out an email once a day, you need to be sure you’re doing it once a day, every day. If you’re going to take a week off, let your readers know.
Well, I’m glad you asked. That’s what I’m going to break down here – the order I send my emails and why.
Email Marketing Best Practices
1. Introduce Yourself
First, I introduce myself. The person joining your email list may know a little bit about you, but that’s it. So, fill in the gaps! Tell them what you do and why you’re good at it.
2. Be Helpful
After my first email goes out in my nurture sequence, the rest will follow every two weeks, but only on weekdays. ConvertKit makes it super easy to set up a sequence like this. (See the image below.)
This is when I show people on my email list they’re in the right place. I start by answering the most commonly asked questions I get. I don’t do this in a Q and A format, although that would work too.
Instead, I share an episode of Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast. I was a guest on his show and gave listeners strategic actions to earn themselves media exposure and more visibility for their brand and business. Some even responded letting me know they ended up earning publicity after implementing what I said!
Inside my nurture sequence in ConvertKit
Now, this isn’t just one email where I share my knowledge. Most of my emails are helpful. In these emails, I like to tell stories. As a former TV reporter and anchor, I’m a storyteller by nature… but I think it’s the best way to learn! So, if you want to teach someone something, try telling a success story to really drive a point home.
These helpful emails are scattered throughout my nurture sequence. I’d estimate they make up about 75% of my content. Just like Gary Vee says, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!”
3. Offer a free product
By this point, your readers should know, like, and trust you. But just to be sure, give them something that’ll really blow their socks off – something you created just for them.
I like to offer my free email course that helps small business owners earn more visibility. I also have a free challenge that sets them up to earn coverage in their local newspaper.
In a perfect world, your help and free resources will wow the people on your email list. They will want to buy anything you sell! We don’t live in a perfect world, so your free stuff won’t work for everyone, but it will wow some of them.
This is where you can start the process of monetizing your business through email marketing. I like to start small and work my way up.
5. Offer a higher priced product or service
If you have another, more expensive product, don’t be afraid to tell your readers about it. It may be exactly what they want and need. If you don’t have a high-priced product yet, this is a perfect time to…
6. Ask questions
I love this method of interacting with my email list. It’s the best way to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they want, and what they need.
Unfortunately, many people are lurkers. They like your content, will skim it, then delete it. Only a few will take the time to reply and answer your questions. Those are the ones who you need to listen to because they are most likely to turn into customers or clients… so listen up, buttercup!
When these emails are spaced out every couple of weeks like mine are, I think it’s a great to wash, rinse, and repeat.
Don’t copy and paste the exact same thing. Instead, share the same ideas. If I told a story about how I successfully earned a client on the Today Show the first go around, I’ll share a student’s success story of how he earned coverage in Entrepreneur Magazine… or if I teased my interview with Pat Flynn, then I’ll switch it up and share my appearance on EOFire with John Lee Dumas.
It’s okay to offer the same products to the same people at different times. Statistics prove people need to see the same offer multiple times before they decide to buy. Plus, you never know where your reader may be personally, professionally, or financially when your next offer lands in their inbox.
Building an email list from scratch sounds like a lot to take on… and it is. It’s work, but remember, everyone started with zero subscribers at one point.
First, you need to give someone a reason to join your email list, or opt-in. Teasing to your “newsletter” won’t cut it anymore. Have you ever received a newsletter that blew your socks off? Probably not.
So, back to the opt-in… it has to be something your readers and followers actually want and need. I’m going to tell you how I started building my email list from scratch.
Build a Foundation for your Email List
A.) First, I started using ConvertKit. Why ConvertKit?
It’s email marketing designed for bloggers, course creators, podcasters, and others. It’s extremely easy to use, ensures your email list is targeted, integrates with other software (like WordPress), and makes automation a breeze. (Automation is what makes being a solopreneur possible!)
B.) A subscription to ConvertKit also includes forms and landing pages to capture a person’s first name and their email address. It’s so nice to have it all in one place.
C.) The next step is creating a great offer for your audience so they choose to opt in. I have a few opt-in that include a free email course, 10-day challenge, media guide, planner PDFs, and others.
Now you’re ready to build your email list and put these opt-ins out into universe… or online in various places like:
1. In blog posts as a “content upgrade”
Because most of my blog posts focus on publicity and ways entrepreneurs can earn more visibility for their brands, my opt-ins do the same and serve as a bonus in the blog post. Here’s an example.
2. As social media posts
I am posting at least once a day on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Sometimes I link to a blog post that includes the content upgrade, but sometimes I will send people straight to a landing page.
3. As social media ads
This is just like a social media post, but with some money behind it. If you’re going to promote your opt-in through ads, targeting the correct audience is key. Then, tracking their behavior and your success with a pixel will determine if your money is well spent or if you need to make some ad tweaks.
4. As a “freebie” shared in a podcast interview
This is my favorite method of growing my email list because you don’t only see results right away, but the people opting in already know, like, and trust you… that’s why they are taking the second step to opt-in and accept your offer.
After I was on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast, a link to my free eBook was posted online. Shortly after the page went live, my email list saw a big jump. When I was on EOFire with John Lee Dumas, I told listeners where to go to get the free eBook with the same result.
5. Emailed to a potential customer or client
Many times a business owner will reach out to me through an email or a phone call to discuss my services and pricing. Because my audience is small business owners, solopreneurs, and bloggers, the conversation usually ends with me directing the person to a free course or challenge to achieve their goals.
While I haven’t built my email list by creating and promoting an online summit, my friend Lisa Simone Richards has and she has had amazing success with it. For more on how to create an online summit to grow your email list, click here.
Everyone online talks about a very important “list.” Having “a list” is vital to making money in online business, but what is it?
What is a list?
Well, “a list” is an email list. Ideally, it’s of your avatar – your ideal customer or client. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in vanity metrics and think it’s only the size of your list that matters. It’s not.I recently wrote an article for Inc. Magazine about an influencer’s social media following and how it means nothing if the people behind the numbers aren’t engaged. For your list, it’s the same.
Targeted email lists
Targeted email lists are where the money is. If your email list is not targeted, then what’s the point of having one?I will get into how to build an email list soon, but first, let me get into why you should have and why I started one.In a word: ConvertKit.
I’ve done email marketing before for my Media Maven clients, but when I learned about ConvertKit and how easy it is to not only build a targeted email list, but to also track how the person entered the list and set up automations based on that, I was sold.Not too long ago, I created an online course. Through business development, I learned a lot of small business owners want and need public relations services, but they can’t afford it. That’s why I decided to charge a fraction of a monthly retainer and teach them how to handle PR themselves. (Click here to read more about that.) To market my new, online business, I needed an email list. To sell something online, you need an online presence. To communicate with those people, you need an email list.
Yes, social media works… and it’s great. You should be on social media. The only problem? You don’t control social media. When your favorite platform makes changes, it usually hurts you.For example, Facebook has you digging into your pockets to reach your followers. Your posts used to appear in news feeds all the time. Today, you only reach 2% of the people who like your page. TWO PERCENT! If you want to reach more, you need to pay Facebook. It’s one reason I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
You own your email list
You are in control of your email list. You own it. That’s the difference.
Having an email list isn’t just for online business. It’s why mine is important, but if you have a local business, a targeted email list of current clients and customers and potential ones would also benefit you.
a.) I’m not tech-savvy, so I need something easy to use.
b.) The tracking of who is signing up and where they’re coming from is amazing. It makes sending emails so much easier because I know exactly what the person is interested in.
For example, if you listened to my interview with Pat Flynn on the Smart Passive Income Podcast, you may have opted in to receive my eBook, Master your Media Relations for free. Because ConvertKit will automatically “tag” you as an SPI listener, I know what your interests are and how I can help you. Based on that, I can subscribe you to a certain email sequence and send certain email broadcasts to you in the future, while leaving others out that may not interest you.
This is also a great way to track what strategies to grow your email list are working and which ones are not working.
c.) The automation takes a lot of work off my shoulders so I can focus on other things.
At the end of the day, you want to reach your clientele and customer base. A targeted email list is the best way to do it.
If you have never tried Periscoping for your business, it may be time to consider it!
Periscope, the live streaming app owned by Twitter, has completely evolved social media sharing. You can make the most out of your social media this year by learning how using Periscope can help grow your business.
What is Periscope
Periscope is an app that allows users to share and view live video broadcasts from their smartphone or tablet. The app was purchased by Twitter for $100 million in March of 2015.Viewers stream 350,000 hours of video every day. Over 200 million broadcasts have been created since its launch, with 10 million registered accounts and 1.9 million daily active users.
Because of this, the app’s popularity and convenience make it a fantastic platform to promote your business.
How to Use the Periscope App
Using Periscope is simple and accessible. To sign in, you can use a phone number or a Twitter account. There are four primary tabs.
1. The first tab displays lists of people that the user follows that are currently “live” and a list of broadcasts that the user attended within the past 24 hours.
2. The second tab displays a list view and a map view of live public broadcasts the user can join.
3. The third tab is the broadcast booth.
4. The fourth tab shows the user’s profile and settings.
The first setting enables the user to turn notification on or off.
The second setting enables the user to select preferred languages public broadcasts.
The third setting enables the user to save videos to a mobile device.
Broadcasting on Periscope… or Periscoping
Here comes the fun part – the actual live video streaming!
If a user has his or her notifications turned on, the user will be alerted to live broadcasts when someone he or she follows starts a broadcast, shares another user’s broadcast, or invites the user to a private broadcast.
In order to watch a live broadcast, select the list or map version of the global broadcast tab and touch an existing event. The broadcast will begin immediately, and comments in bubbles and hearts floating on the screen will appear from users along with the number of viewers on the lower right.
The same goes for replaying a broadcast, minus the comments and hearts.
To send a broadcast, select the broadcast screen and enable all three options and the setup screen will open. Choose all your settings, notify Twitter followers that the broadcast is starting, and begin the broadcast.
Why You Should Use Periscope for Business
Periscope creates a community between your business, loyal customers, and influencers. You’re able to interact with others by
showing up regularly to their broadcasts,
making insightful comments,
asking intelligent questions, and
sharing their broadcasts on social channels.
Periscope is also great for posting how-to videos. By Periscoping, or scoping, you’re able to demonstrate how to use a product, share tips on using it, and upload the video to YouTube after the live stream. Share product demos when launching a new product by
sharing details with the audience,
doing an interactive demonstration, and
showcasing product features.
You can also share news in your industry with the online community before anyone has a chance to write about it, or build a mailing list by asking viewers to leave their email address in the comments to sign up for something great.This is a guest post submitted by Farah Zamora, a journalism student at Florida Gulf Coast University.