By Rieva Lesonsky
These days, the best way to grow your business is to grow your online audience. But what’s the best way to get more website traffic? According to a new report from Ascend2, search engine optimization, or SEO, is the number-one tactic for marketers.
While SEO can sound mysterious to business owners who are less than Web-savvy, it’s actually pretty simple. The same study reports that the best way to improve your SEO is to create “relevant content”—in other words, content that’s useful to your target customers.
Content creation is my business, so perhaps it’s not surprising I find creating relevant content easy to do. Here are some tips to help you do it, too, so you can get more website traffic.
Start by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about what they’d like to know that you can help them with. What problems, questions or concerns do they have that you know the answers to?
For instance, if you own a garden shop or nursery, your target customers might want to know how to keep their lawns green with less water, what plants are pet- and child-safe, or how to build a raised bed to grow their own vegetables at home. Seasons of the year and holidays, such as summer, back-to-school season, holiday shopping season or tax time, are natural idea-generators, since these are all times when customers have specific needs.
Relate your content to what your business sells—but make sure it doesn’t sound like an ad. For example, the garden shop mentioned above could create content about how to maintain a lawn without using much water, mentioning some types of grass seed that are drought-resistant and linking to where to buy them on its website.
Once you’ve got a topic to write about, here’s what to do:
- Keep it simple. Short content works best online. A blog post or article shouldn’t be more than 500 words or so. Use bulleted or numbered lists, as well as subheadings, to break the content up even more.
- Write like you talk. Content doesn’t have to sound like a school report, so if the last thing you wrote was a high school term paper, don’t stress. Write the way you talk; a conversational style works better on the Web. (If you’re not a grammar or spelling whiz, enlist someone on your staff or even a family member to proofread it for you.)
- Share your work with the world. Post your content on your business website, include snippets of your content in your email newsletters, and post excerpts on your social media pages (linking back to the full piece on your website). Then expand your influence by offering your content to others. For example, you can offer to provide guest blogs for bloggers in your industry with whom you’ve built relationships, or write articles for industry publications. If you are able to provide guest blogs, ask the blogger if you can include a link to your website on their blog. Building relevant links back to your site is a useful SEO tactic for one-third of marketers in the survey.
- Work in keywords. Keywords do matter, but they’re fairly simple to incorporate into your content. Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner or the Bing Keyword Research Tool to come up with keywords that are popular among your target customer base, and use them in your content (especially in headlines and subheadings). Nearly half (48 percent) of survey respondents say using the right keywords and phrases is one of their most effective SEO tactics.
By implementing these simple tips, you’ll get more website traffic–and that means more business.