In the last decade, blogging has come a long way from being the informal weblog it started as. Businesses created processes and formalized it into “content marketing” as it’s proven to drive traffic, leads, and revenue.
But where do you earn eyeballs to get exposure for the content you create?
Social media networks encourage businesses to build their fans and followers on their platforms. But once brands have built their audience on these platforms, they start their users to themselves–businesses have to pay to reach their own fanbase.
The majority of web traffic referrals are controlled by Google — Consumers still log on to the search giant for researching subjects, and so it remains the only free and sustainable growth channel for most businesses by a long shot.
Yet Google’s now providing direct answers and competing with websites, businesses, and publishers for clicks.
- More than half of searches on Google now end without a click as per SparkToro,
- Further, Google loves huge brands so much that Glen Allsopp found 16 companies dominated its SERPs.
What happens to the average small business owner?
Don’t you worry–all is not lost yet! Here’s how you can still earn visibility for your content and your business from search.
Niche Down To Scale Up
In a study of 100k non-branded keywords–with least 1k monthly searches–Ahrefs found that the articles ranking number one get the most amount of traffic only 49% of the time. On other occasions, the results ranking number two, or even further down, could get more traffic.
And traffic is a vanity metric. For instance, if you sell a grammar software, what good would a page that ranks for “how to write a bio” do for you — especially if ranking for the terms calls requires building lots of backlinks?
In most cases–and specifically, when your website doesn’t have a decent domain authority–you’re better off writing articles closely related to your products. You can begin with the bottom of the funnel targeting keywords with high buying intent. A few examples are:[your top competitor] alternatives,
- [your top competitor] vs. your product,
- best [your product’s function] software,
Even otherwise, prioritize relevant search terms over those with the highest volume and nail the user intent behind these queries.
Senior content marketer Andra Zaharia shares how you can create content by understanding the user intent, “Creating content that makes an impact is now inconceivable without a thorough understanding of what customers really want. Figuring it out involves carefully analyzing people’s habits as reflected by their online searches.
“There are things people will never share in a customer development interview but that they will entrust Google with when left to their own devices.
“Analyzing those searches can be especially revealing. Using the intent to guide your choice of message, format, and distribution can offset the risk of irrelevancy and wasted resources. It can help you engage the most receptive users on a specific topic.”
You also need to own your niche by comprehensively covering narrower subjects related to your industry.
For example: If writers are your audience, then instead of covering the rather competitive subject of “how to start a blog”, write an article on “how to start an author’s blog.” The unique angle makes it super focused on your audience and will rake relevant traffic.
You can also use the topic cluster model to become an authority on a subject. As explained in the HubSpot video below, it involves creating a main pillar page and cluster pages covering subtopics.
Such narrower subjects might have super low search volume (under 100 searches per month) when plugged into keyword research tools. However, if a lot of your customers have asked such questions to you, add it to your content calendar.
Google likes to rank websites that have such topical expertise. So you can execute this strategy with the assurance of surviving the search apocalypse by earning top spots for relevant search terms.
Start A YouTube Channel
People love watching videos, and YouTube is the third biggest search engine in the world. So engaging your prospects and customers through videos — and finding newer audiences — through a YouTube channel could work well for your business.
Indeed, Jumpshot’s data from 2017 indicates that YouTube videos account for 1.8% of search clicks in Google. And a 2019 analysis by Rand Fishkin, a marketing thought leader, found the video platform gets as many as 6% of clicks on desktops.
Most marketers have jumped on to YouTube marketing, and the competition on the platform is fierce. But again, niching down to specific subjects from your industry could help you drive authentic engagement and add a visual dimension to your brand.
SmallBizDaily already has a bunch of helpful articles to get your business on YouTube. Read how to use the video platform to build your personal brand, grow your online business or a local business, and leverage YouTube advertising.
Remember that YouTube won’t send a lot of visitors directly to your website, but you can use the videos you produce in relevant articles. This can help your search rankings and lets you:
Build A Brand
The search giant loves brands and boosts their presence in its SERP. Now a YouTube channel is a great way to build your brand through video.
But there are numerous other “branding signals” you can rely on. Begin with polishing your other social media profiles and try to build a following on at least one. I would reckon you to start with amping up your Pinterest and LinkedIn presence because the competition on these platforms is lower than Facebook and Instagram.
Catherine Manning shines a light on how you can even promote your YouTube videos through Pinterest:
Another strategy to get people hooked to your voice “literally” is by launching your weekly show. You see, the pandemic has led to the wide-scale adoption of audio experiences.
Besides social media marketing and podcasting, you can try other tactics such as guest posting, getting interviewed by other websites, and conducting original research. Mix and match the ones you like to grow your brand optimally.
Play With And Try To Benefit From The Available Options…
The position of the fold has drastically changed in the past five years as Google has pushed down organic results in its listings. Further, Google steals clicks from websites by answering questions directly.
But you need to adapt and leverage the brand visibility opportunities that exist. Shreya Dalela, the founder of The Creatives Hour, for instance, tries to optimize her already ranking client articles for featured snippets. The minimal extra effort boosts traffic and helps the bottom line.
While legal battles with Alphabet and criticism of them competing with publishers are ongoing, SERP real estate remains invaluable. So try to claim knowledge panels, own your map listings, use structured data, and any other viable search appearances–your competitors will, anyway.
Chintan Zalani is a writer and content marketing consultant. He also helps creators build sustainable businesses at Elite Content Marketer.