A while ago, I wrote a post on Facebook about a pet peeve that I have. It was about how a lot of people don’t seem to understand what search engine marketing is all about.
It bothers me that people don’t talk about this lack of knowledge enough. For YEARS I thought I somewhat knew what I was doing…but news flash, I didn’t at all. And I couldn’t understand why, after all the work I’d put into SEO, I wasn’t getting any results.
When I started a real digital marketing business, I finally figured out what I was doing so wrong with SEO. I learned how to get clients and traffic using the right tactics.
So here’s the truth about SEO, just in case you are where I used to be!
How to Get Clients with Search Engine Marketing
Know the Difference Between the Two Main Types of Search Engine Marketing
There are two main types of SEO that you need to know about.
1. Optimizing Your Website
The first is what most people consider to be SEO — optimizing your website. This includes making sure your site loads quickly, that your site is mobile-responsive, and that you’re using image alt tags and headings in your blog posts.
That kind of SEO is great, but it’s purely focused on the optimization side of it. This part of SEO makes sure that once you get traffic to your site, the users stay on your webpage. And it also helps you rank higher in search results.
But all of this means virtually nothing if you’re not doing the second type — effective keyword research as part of your search engine marketing strategy.
2. Keyword Research
Keyword research isn’t quite as easy as optimizing your site. It takes practice, and it’s nowhere near as simple as picking a word or phrase you think is popular and then optimizing your content for it. (That’s exactly what I used to do, and I got zero traffic from Google.)
It wasn’t until I started learning how to do keyword research (using a tool like KW Finder) that I started to see results — because I was using keywords that actually rank on Google already!
(In the above photo I’m showing what my organic search traffic looked like when I was only half-assing my search engine marketing strategy…and then what it looked like after I started using keyword research! SEO used to account for only 13% of my traffic, but it shot up to 30%. In addition, the amount of traffic increased by over 250%!)
The good news is that once you’re aware of what search engine marketing is and isn’t, it’s not that hard to learn. You just need a good teacher. And SEO is powerful because it’s a free client attraction method that can bring tons of traffic to your website.
If you want a step-by-step tutorial on how to do keyword research, join my Systematic Marketing School! It’s the only place I show the behind-the-scenes on how I get my posts to rank in Google search results.
Figure Out What Keywords Your Target Market is Searching For
This can take some trial and error, but it’s really important that you use keywords that are specifically being searched for by people in your target market. If you only go into it wanting a “good” keyword…you may just get a bunch of random traffic. That means people who won’t end up buying from you (or worse, no traffic at all).
It’s more than just thinking about what keywords your target audience might search for. It’s also thinking about why are people searching that keyword?
For example, one time I was trying to write a blog post about managing your client relationships. While I was doing keyword research, the keywords I kept coming across were things like “happy relationships” or “how to have a better relationship.” And although these would have made sense in my blog post, those would not have been a good choice. They aren’t good keywords because I would’ve either (a) gotten a bunch of traffic from people looking for marital advice, or (b) not gotten any website traffic at all, because people could see in the search results that my content was about clients and not marriage so, therefore, they would never click on my post.
So you really have to think about keywords, not just in a “what keyword works for me” kind of way, but also in a “what keywords are going to best attract my audience” way. And this is why you may want to actually go for keywords that will get you less traffic but more qualified traffic. It’s better to have 5 page views from some super qualified potential clients than 100 page views from people who aren’t even remotely your target market.
Remember: Search engine marketing isn’t just about bringing traffic to your site. The end goal is getting paying clients!
Do Search Engine Marketing Research Before You Create Your Content
You will have more success if you do the proper keyword research before creating content. And by content, I don’t just mean blog posts.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not just for blog posts. If you have a podcast, do YouTube videos, or even have a website with no content at all, you can still use SEO! And you really, really should be!!
Confusion about when to do SEO is a common issue that I come across with my clients, so I thought I’d address it here. A lot of my clients will write blog posts and then ask me to do the SEO. Or they will want me to go back and fix the SEO on old blog posts.
This is possible (and we actually have a package for it!), but keep in mind that it’s typically a LOT easier to do search engine marketing before you create your content. It should literally be the second step you do, right after coming up with an idea for a topic.
The reason to do it before is that it’s a lot easier to build your content around the framework and rules of SEO, then it is to take content that’s already written and try to shove SEO into it. It will turn out a lot less awkward and you will have way more keyword options if you do the search engine marketing piece first.
Seamlessly Weave Your Keyword(s) into Your Content
This is something that takes a lot of practice. If you’re just starting to use search engine marketing, you may not be used to writing with keywords in mind. It’s kind of a weird and backwards way to write content. So it might feel stifling or difficult to you at first. But I promise — it gets easier!
(And you can always look for a content marketing copywriter to help you with this. Many have training in SEO!)
The goal that you want to shoot for is that if a random person is consuming your content, they should not be able to tell what keyword you are trying to rank for. If someone gets to the end of your content and thinks “wow they used that phrase a lot” ….that’s not really what we’re going for.
This does take practice and it’s gonna feel hella awkward at first. But you get used to it, trust me! I still don’t think that I always get it perfect, but the goal is just to not make it super noticeable.
It can actually hurt your SEO to use the keyword phrase too many times! That’s called “keyword stuffing.” A good rule of thumb is to read over your content and hear how it sounds aloud. This is a good way to catch grammar errors, misused words, and a keyword being used too many times.
The absolute best way to get better at keyword research and creating content around keywords is to practice!
Want more guidance with the process? I’m sharing the exact steps I take to rank in Google search results. Join my Systematic Marketing School for a look behind the curtain into my operations!