SEO For Beginners – Your First 100 Visits/Day w/ Claire Howarth – #34

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The Brand Builder Show
SEO For Beginners – Your First 100 Visits/Day w/ Claire Howarth – #34

Welcome back to another episode of the Brand Builder Show! 

This week we’re joined by my good friend and business partner Claire Howarth.

Claire has been writing a lot of the content for one of our brands that is starting to see some real traction with Search Engine Optimization leading to an average of 70-100 organic visits to our website per day.

In this episode we break down the key stages of getting started with SEO as a beginner:

  • How to identify low competition and high volume keywords worth targeting
  • How to write content that ranks for said keywords
  • How to build authority for your website over the long term

Download the free step-by-step SEO checklist we have developed and use daily for all our content:

> Coming Soon..

Helpful resources:

If you got this far, there’s a chance you enjoyed the episode… if so, please consider leaving a review – we really appreciate it!

Talking Points:

00:00 Introducing Claire

01:51 Why bother with SEO?

08:38 Getting started with SEO

12:33 Approach to building good content

17:24 Providing product value

21:13 Researching content ideas

29:03 Writing a good content

38:18 Guiding customer to the next step

45:53 Speed up writing

49:05 Optimizing content’s SEO

Ben Donovan  00:00
Hey, guys, welcome back to another episode of The Brand Builder show. It’s a privilege and an honor to have my good friend and business partner on the show today, Claire, welcome to the show.
Claire Howarth  00:10
Thank you for having me.
Ben Donovan  00:11
No, it’s my pleasure, we’re going to dig into a topic that we’ve grown to love over the last sort of six months or so. And that is the topic of search engine optimization, we have really started to try and build out a lot more of this in our business, because we just see it as something that really does compound over time, you know, you can launch products, you can run marketing campaigns, but so often what we do in E commerce, it’s sort of here today gone tomorrow, if the campaign fizzles out, you need to start it all up again. Whereas SEO is just something that just builds layer upon layer. And so, you know, we’re excited about what the next kind of months and years hold for this approach in our business. But what we’re going to do today, is we’re going to sort of break it down. And Claire is a genius in our own right, and I have been somewhat involved in it as well, just, you know, on that learning journey. And and so I thought today, it’d be good for us just have a bit of a conversation. So, so I managed to persuade Claire to come on the show, as if I promised to contribute as well. So it’s not just gonna be q&a as such, but we’re gonna have a good chat about it. And, and that the plan, Claire, right, is to we’re gonna go through sort of from beginning to end.
Ben Donovan  01:22
Yeah, talk about the entire process that we’ve been going on. And, you know, as we said, before, we start to record we’re definitely not experts in the subject matter, still very much in the learning phase. But we do want to share with people, you know, what we’re doing along the journey. But just before we do dive into it, Claire, just give us a bit of, you know, background on to some of the things that we have been doing, why we’ve why we’ve been doing it just yeah, you’re kind of intro thoughts on SEO and why? Hopefully, you’re enjoying it.
Claire Howarth  01:51
Yeah, I think the important thing is we always went into this with the right mindset, I think that’s really important, because SEO is just this, this huge, it’s this base that you think, you know, how do I tackle this, as a business owner, I know this is important, I don’t even know where to get started. And probably there are people watching or listening and who can relate to that. And that’s definitely something that made this I mean, you obviously have a background in business, this is this is something that is newer for me, in the last couple of years that I can, I can definitely relate to that feeling. And so I think that’s something that’s been really key is just to go into this thinking, this is a long game, you know, like you were saying, you might start to see a little bit of, you know, some some metrics moving in the right direction. In the short term, you might have to wait quite a long time before you start seeing anything particularly exciting, you know, six months, a year, within a few years, even you might, you might be looking back and thinking, okay, I can really see how this work that I put in two years ago is paying off now. But it’s one of those things that, you know, unlike paid ads, for example, you can’t necessarily show or prove on paper, how a lot of the work that you’re doing is is directly equating to, you know, dollars made or pounds made or whatever. But you can see enough in the positive trends, you know, engagement on social media, traffic to your site, building your email, list, all of these, these things that we know are important for our businesses, you can’t see enough of that in the short term, I think to keep you excited about it. And that’s, that’s what’s happened, really, that I found creating content, being able to see, okay, I created that two months ago. And I can see that’s one of our, you know, one of our top pages now, something I wrote back just a couple of months ago, you know, super easy to write really straightforward using the strategy that we’re going to talk about today. And I can’t show you, you know, this is how many pounds we’ve made off it. But I can show you this, these are all the metrics that are moving in the right direction.
Claire Howarth  03:55
So so that’s the thing, really, I think, just just go into it with the right mindset. And you will, if you do the right things, it will pay off.
Ben Donovan  04:04
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And we’ll talk through a bit about a process. Because as you say, you know, it’s not affected the bottom line really much at all yet, but it’s really starting to gain traction in terms of traffic, which eyeballs are everything, obviously, in E commerce. And, you know, a couple of weeks ago, we had a record traffic over 100 visits in a day. And over, you know, half I think even 70 80% Some days of our traffic is coming from Google search, you know, Google searching for things that are related to our niche and are coming to our website, looking at that stuff. So, you know, there’s some real good progress happening there. And, you know, in time that will really translate into into pounds and dollars for reasons which like I said, we’ll get into our strategy and why we’re taking the approach we are but to start with the list, sort of set some foundations and in terms of SEO, search engine optimization, a lot of people listening will be Amazon sellers. They get a lot of their revenue coming in through Amazon. Why? You know, they may be asking why even bother, you know, with SEO, what what is even the point of SEO? And what has our mindset been, as, you know, primarily, our revenue is coming from Amazon, but we’re still putting this time into SEO? Why are we doing that?
Claire Howarth  05:12
Well, again, I think it comes down to the long game, you know, what do you want to do? Do you want to try and make as much money as quick as possible in the short term and, or do you want to build something that’s, that’s really going to last and I know, you know, your whole thing, then. And something that we share is, is wanting to build a brand that that is for the future that lasts that has that has value that isn’t just based on a one revenue source, you know, that can stand on its own two feet. And you know, if it’s, if if there are people listening, or watching and they’re interested in, maybe I’d love to start a business, grow it and scale it, and then sell it, then these are the kinds of things you need to be considering what’s going to add value to your brand that is going to separate you from all of the other, you know, your competitors that are just selling on Amazon, or you’re just selling on whatever, you know, wherever marketplace is.
Claire Howarth  06:01
So I think that that’s been a big part of it, but for us is knowing, okay, we know this isn’t going to make us a ton of money in the short term. But this is going to pay off to strengthen our brand across the board to increase our sources of revenue. So that we’re not reliant on one thing, and that we are a more rounded and more interesting brand. If you know if we want to go on to sell whatever we want to do with what we’ve got those options available to us to do that.
Ben Donovan  06:29
Yeah. And I think that, you know, SEO for me, the more I’ve looked at it is just such a huge opportunity in E commerce. And that might seem a bit sort of outdated information. Because SEO has been around for a long time. I think people just either don’t understand it or can’t be bothered or don’t have the patience to wait, because, you know, we have come out of an era in E commerce where you could turn on Facebook ads and get sales the same day, there’s such a quick feedback time feedback loop that, that isn’t there for SEO. So there’s lots of people that ignore it. You know, I did an interview recently, on the Privy podcast talking about our kind of thoughts with SEO and what we’re up to. And when that was kind of publicized, I had some people sort of message, you know, based on that saying, you know, like, I’m doing like X million in revenue, but I’ve never even bothered with search engine optimization. I’m just like, that just proves the point, there is so much opportunity here. Because the I look at I’ve got this like plugin now that comes in at the top of my Chrome.
Ben Donovan  07:26
And when I go on any website shows me the kind of the SEO vital metrics for that. And pretty much every ecommerce brand I go into is so weak on SEO, it just means there’s so much opportunity out there.
Claire Howarth  07:38
Yeah, absolutely. I think that the you’re looking at it the wrong way around. If you’re thinking okay, well, I got away with it so far. Okay, you’ve got away with it. What could you be doing if you’re actually start to starting to maximize this opportunity. And I think as well, it’s you know, for smaller businesses, if you’re running a lot of this yourself from from your own home, and maybe you don’t, you can’t outsource very much, you might feel like I just didn’t have time for this. It’s too big of something to start, I think people feel like if I’m gonna start doing stuff on my website, it’s a massive job, a huge commitment. I don’t want to waste my time. But hopefully, what we’re going to share today is going to show people that actually there, there are simple things you can do that that work are really doable. You don’t have to be, you know, an amazing writer, you don’t have to be some kind of tech guru. But this and you don’t have to put in hours and hours and hours or spend loads of money on it either. But these are things that really can pay off. Even if you are just starting out and you know your website’s getting basically no hits.
Ben Donovan  08:39
Yeah, definitely. But well, let’s move on to some practicals. Then, like you say, let’s talk about how people can get started with this. A very beginner, user friendly way to bring us right back to the beginning, then for anybody that’s listening, wondering, Well, what exactly is SEO, search engine optimization? Could you talk to us about? Can you give us a sentence that really kind of describes your understanding of search, what we’re trying what we’re trying to achieve? When we talk about SEO, what we’re trying to achieve here?
Claire Howarth  09:09
Yeah, I think you said it earlier, it’s it’s firewalls is people seeing what you have to offer, if people finding out about you. You know, I think when we put so much effort into what we do, we can kind of just assume that people are going to somehow know or care and find out about us. And that’s just not the case, we have to play the game. And so we have to show, you know, search engines, Google, I’m gonna, I’m probably gonna say Google a lot. But let’s just say I mean, whichever search engine you’re in question, but you have to show Google that you are important that you provide value that you’re something that is worth showing people. And so search, SEO is all about me using the right strategies to show that in order that you can then have eyeballs on what you are doing, and have the opportunity to present what you have to offer
Ben Donovan  10:00
Yeah because Google’s business model, you know, there are other search engines out there. But let’s face it, Google is 95% plus of any website’s traffic. Their business model is predicated on having, you know, good search results. That’s, that’s everything they want people keep coming back and finding answers when they come to Google. And so they are continually updating the algorithm and looking for new content that better answers and serves that that user intent. So if someone comes and searches for something, Google want them to find their answer, and not have to go away to another search engine to find that answer. Because the more eyeballs they have on Google, the more ad units they can sell, the more revenue they can make their business, right. So that’s, that’s why good content is going to win. And that’s why for us, when we talk about the keys to solid SEO, what we’re trying to build the foundations on. It really is two things, its content and its links, content in the form of pages. Information is what Google is going to position in the search results. And then links or backlinks they might be known out you might hear them referred to as backlinks are when another website links back to a piece of your content. And it actually gives Google a sign it shows Google that you should be taken seriously because if someone else is referencing your content, it starts to grow its authority. And that is when your your content can really grow in in search results.
Ben Donovan  11:27
And so for us, that’s what we’ve been doing is mainly focusing on the first one is content. And it doesn’t need to be crazy. You know, you’ve been doing maybe one article a week for the last few months.
Claire Howarth  11:37
Yeah, yeah, roughly.
Ben Donovan  11:39
And so nothing too crazy. But it’s actually the strategy, which we’ll get into in terms of research in a moment that really has helped pick up our traffic and start to see real momentum. And then links like that’s quite a bit more an advanced topic. And it’s definitely something we can talk about in the future. We are preparing a lot more content inside Brand Builder University for the topic of SEO, and also got a checklist that we’re going to be producing, which will be I’m hoping available by the time this episode airs. And so we’ll have that out to you. But really is just the link side of it is a bit more of an advanced topic, but essentially is producing content that’s worthy of another website, finding it in search results, and linking back to you when they’re writing a piece themselves. So in terms of how we’re taking that, that understanding that it’s, you know, good content that’s going to win the game, what’s the approach we’re taking, in terms of building out good content for our website.
Claire Howarth  12:33
So I think that it’s really about finding out what people are actually interested in. And you can get very easily demotivated when you see that nobody’s finding and reading what you have to say, if you don’t take the time to find out what people actually want to know. And don’t just assume that either. And not just that, but what do they what do they want to know that you can actually tell them, because you’ve got some chance of getting, you know, ranking highly enough for people to see what the information is that you have to share. And so we’ve tried to really provide informational content, and try to niche down quite a lot as well. Because obviously, the more niche something is, in general, the less competition you’re going to have. And the easier it’s going to be for you to rank. But it’s also going to be easier for you to create content around that, because you’ve got such clear parameters of what to include, you’ll be able to clearly see what your competitors, you know, other pages that you’ll be competing against, are sharing the quality of the content they’re putting out. And it’d be easier for you to see from that research, how you can compete with that, than if it’s very general topics that could that could be interpreted in a number of ways. So you know, we’re doing how to, how can I do this? And even I love you know, questions? Can I do this? You could write a whole 1500 or 2000 words on and the answer to a question like, I don’t know, let’s say makeup brushes, can I use dish soap to clean my makeup brushes, you could do a whole ton of content around that. And that is going to obviously, the more niche it is as well, that’s going to show Google that you are an are a site with authority in that particular area. Rather than trying to be a kind of one size fits all capsule and include a ton of different stuff that that’s going to be difficult for you to show that you have authority about.
Ben Donovan  14:23
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And for in terms of our approach, because obviously ecommerce ranking product pages money pages, as they can be called on Google is difficult because obviously that is higher competition. There’s a direct benefit for ranking those kinds of pages, and those kinds of keywords, those buying intent keywords, and so we haven’t really targeted any of those to begin with. We’ve really focused on that informational content. No one’s gonna be searching if they are, you know, they’re related to our products, not necessarily about our products all the time, but we are starting to, you know, sprinkle some more how tos or do slides for our products in there as well, I don’t know, probably on a three to one issue ratio, you know, information to product based, because what we’re doing right now is going after the traffic. And that is what I would suggest to any new, you know, brand owner that wants to take SEO seriously is go after the informational stuff first, because that’s gonna help build traffic in time, it’s going to attract links to our website, it’s going to grow the authority of our website. And as the authority grows, so does our the possibility of us ranking for higher competition keywords like, you know, product related buying related keywords, so then we can, you know, start to rank for some of those pages a little bit more. So, that’s kind of been our approach, which is why we’re not stressed about the fact that it’s, you know, not grown our revenue by 100x. Overnight, right. It’s about the long play building this solid foundation now.
Ben Donovan  14:25
And, you know, you mentioned it about in terms of finding content that people are actually interested in, I think this for us was one of the biggest game changes. I have been, you know, dabbling in different formats with E commerce since around 2015 2016. And I’ve never taken SEO seriously. I’ve never taken blogging seriously. I’ve always considered blogging as a waste of time, because like, who actually cares about what you’re doing in your business? Because that’s, I think what most business owners think a blog is, is to update your audience on the progress of your business. But the reality is, you know, let’s be honest, unless you are a massive, massive brand, nobody really cares. You know, what you’re doing in the business, or we just did this work trip, or we’re creating this product in the future, like, there’s a place for that maybe to some degree, but what most people do is they just post updates, they just put content up that they haven’t even researched. But what changed the game for us was actually taking time taking keyword research topic research seriously. And finding these questions that people weren’t actually asking where the answers weren’t as good or weren’t even there, perhaps on Google, which presented us with opportunities. Yeah, Claire, you talk to us about that you’re kind of because you’ve done you know, all of the keyword research for the, for the stuff on our on our toy site. And you have looked at that and analyze that and found some amazing opportunities, like one post gets us 20-30 hits a day. It’s crazy, right? Just and we would never have known that. And we hadn’t taken time to do this keyword research. So talk to us a little bit about your process with top gurus.
Claire Howarth  17:24
Yeah, yeah. So. So just before I go into that, I would just wanted to say as well that, you know, you can do product specific content, where you can provide value without having to be a sales pitch. And so, you know, you can, I would just say that when you were saying that we’ve been doing maybe three to one of kind of general stuff that we think our demographic our target market are interested in. And then And then, you know, one would be product specific. That is still we’re still going through the same keyword research process for the product specific content as well. We’re finding out what do people want to know when it comes to that product. And let’s say you find out if I just use makeup brushes, as an example, again, let’s say you find out that the best makeup brushes is a keyword that you could maybe rank for, okay, in reality, that’s probably super high competition, but let’s just say it’s low competition, or you find it phrased in a way that’s low competition, you think, Okay, this is lowkey way difficulty, I could do something with this. And you sell makeup brushes, you could go down the route of doing a whole sales pitch about why yours is one of the best makeup brushes. And it’s got all these features. Or you could say, and I’m actually going to provide some value. And I’m going to be honest and say, Look, we sell this, look, you know, here’s where you can buy it, here’s some internal links. Here’s, you know, we’re obviously going to make sure that everything we talked about in this blog post, our makeup brushes actually tick those boxes. But we’re going to create this really useful guide, the ultimate guide on how to make sure that you buy the best makeup brush for you. And we’re going to use all these keywords, we’re going to target it and we’re going to hit it really, really well.
Claire Howarth  19:02
You’re going to be providing something of value, people aren’t going to be going in and realizing that you’re trying to sell to them straightaway get annoyed and then get straight back at your site, which doesn’t give you all for bounce rates, you are going to be giving them something of value. Well, they’ll say okay, I know they sell this, I get how these things work. And I know that they’re hoping that I’ll maybe I’ll buy this, but the information they’re giving me is actually really helpful and in supporting me in making an informed decision as a consumer. So I would just say even when you are doing product specific or if you really want to focus on product specific content, make sure that you are providing genuine value and that you don’t go down the route of just making a sales pitch because that’s what your product pages for. You have other places to do that on your site. But but it’s it’s I think it’s verging on shady to try and really try and rank for a keyword that you know, people are looking for guidance and just to try and sell it live instead. So that’s kind of our approach with the product stuff as well.
Ben Donovan  20:02
Definitely. Yeah, for sure. I didn’t tell you the usage, there was shady there reminded me, I didn’t tell you that I actually was stuck on what I was searching for something technical, the other day and Google and I clicked on one of the first results as you do. And the content on the page was in no way relevant to why I searched or the title of the article. And I can’t remember why I was. I think I did a search a, you know, Command F search on the web page to find that keyword, because I’m like, it must be way down the page, I can’t find it. I did search. And it was there, like 10 times on the page, but in white on a white.
Claire Howarth  20:39
I’m amazed that that’s how I thought all that stuff was like, you know, being picked up on now.
Ben Donovan  20:43
I believe that it was I mean, been such a niche search, you know, low competition that is just serving up the best thing I could find. And there was really nothing for it. And it just showed that it was I thought was absolutely wild.
Claire Howarth  20:59
On that keyword, because that is a massive opportunity. That’s it? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So Sorry, go on.
Ben Donovan  21:06
Yeah, I’ll just say good clarity on on that topic. But yeah, in terms of that research, what’s the what’s your process?
Claire Howarth  21:13
Yeah, so um, I mean, this is something that we’ve kind of honed together. But the initial research, starting out with content ideas, you have the option to use a paid tool. That’s what we do, personally, we find that well worth it. And it’s really paying off. In terms of, you know, the, as we say that the results that we’re seeing with traffic. But if that’s not something that you can do, you don’t have that option, there are free tools available, you can get some information from I know that Google’s keyword planner can be helpful, you can just do research straight on Google, which is going to be a little bit more of a rabbit hole, you’re gonna have to spend a little bit longer to really find out, you know, through auto suggest and looking at the different options, what kinds of keywords are coming up. So if you can, if you can use a paid tool, or even do a free couple of free trials, and just see if it’s worth it for you, then I would definitely suggest that, especially if you don’t have a lot of time. But if you don’t have that option, there are plenty of other options that you that are offering as well.
Claire Howarth  22:15
So you want to initially do your research and just try to go into it quite open. But also always bearing in mind, what is your target market, you know, you want this to actually be content that people who would buy your product would be interested in, even if it’s not product specific. So have a think about that, it might help you to do some kind of like a word map or something to help you to, to think about what they would care about. And then just start to look into your competitors sites. So try to find out what what pages they are ranking for, you’ll be able to find that really easily in any kind of paid tool. But I’m sure there are ways maybe, you know, actually, ways of finding that for free as well. But you should be able to find out, you know what, what pages they’re ranking for, and what those keywords are that they’re ranking for. So that will start to give you an idea, okay, these are similar brands to me, or this is who I aspire to be like, and actually, they’ve produced this content. But I think I could create something that that would also target that. And I can see that it’s quite low difficulty because if I look at the results that are coming up, then I can see that that the quality is not that great across the board. So you can start to try and find some keywords, I would say something to always do. If you have paid tools, you can find out a keyword difficulty score that will be assigned usually based on the number of backlinks that it’s assumed you would need in order to rank on page one for that particular keyword.
Claire Howarth  23:50
But whether or not you have that option, you can still I would really strongly recommend that you still do do the extra step of making sure that you search for that exact keyword phrase in Google and find out for yourself what comes up on page one, because you will see a number of different clues that will show you whether or not it’s something that’s worth going for. So if you are using a paid tool, don’t just say oh, it says it’s Keyword Difficulty three out of 100. This is easy. I’m going to easily rank for this, I’ll just do this, go and have a look for yourself. If you see that there are a ton of high profile sites, or you know, competitor sites that you know are way more established than you and there are ranking on the first page, it’s going to be a bit trickier. But if you see that there are lots of forums, it’s people’s posts, people posting on forums like Quora if it’s Pinterest boards, other social media links. That’s Pinterest boards is a very common one. For keywords that are good to go for. If it shows if it’s got people’s blogs that they wrote 10 years ago and they’ve not updated it since you know age is a really important one to look out for.
Claire Howarth  24:58
Because Google likes to see things the recent, you know, recently are regularly updated to make sure that it’s good, it’s good content. If it’s you’re finding, for example, domains are ranking on page one that are free domains, like it’s a Wix site, you know, dot Wix site, or WordPress, or whatever, and they’ve not even paid for their own domain, that tells you that it’s a side hobby. And that’s, that’s not a site, a site that has a lot of authority, and yet still, they’re getting to page one. So that’s a good keyword to go for. So try to look really closely at what is the competition. And you can do that just scanning that page one without even having to necessarily spend a lot of time going through and reading tons of blogs, you might want to do that at a later stage. But in this initial research stage, I think that would be enough to start to get an idea of which keywords you might want to go for first.
Ben Donovan  25:49
Yeah, yeah, I think you’re right, you’re gonna look for the clues that Google is giving you, right? Because Google is presenting what it deems is at the best results. And so you’re looking at the format as well, again, thinking about search intent, what the user is looking for, if they’re asking a question about how to use those makeup brushes, they’re probably not looking to buy them straight away. They want to know first how they can use them, they may already have bought them. And so there’s a likelihood that the content on page one for that search term is going to be article, blog kind of related. And so, you know, it’s really important when you’re doing your research, do look at the results there. Because if it is a bunch of product pages, then it’s unlikely that a blog post, for instance, is going to rank, whereas if it’s all blog pages, is unlikely that our product page maybe is going to rank. So look for the clues that Google has given you. But like Claire says, you know, paid tools, you know, is quite similar to when you’re selling on Amazon. And you know, anybody that’s listening would know that I’m a big fan of using tools like helium, 10, etc. To speed up your workflow. Because time is money and time is irreplaceable money, you can always earn more of. And so it’s similar with tools with SEO. The good thing is like classes, you can use a bunch of different ones. There’s sem rush, was it sem rush? I don’t know what the pros
Claire Howarth  27:05
Yeah, I wondered the same.
Ben Donovan  27:07
There’s malls, and there’s hrs, which is, you know, again, how do you even say that, why they have to make it so hard. Most keeping it easy for us. But there’s also Uber Suggest by Neil Patel, that there’s loads of these sorts of do a very similar thing. We use hrs and they have a like a seven day trial, I think for $1 or $7. Super cheap. And actually, I would recommend, I don’t know what you feel clever. But I would recommend, you know, doing your keyword research in bulk. And then forgetting about doing more keyword research, it’s very easy. I’ve found it’s like a little hobby now to try and find these keyword opportunities. And you can spend all your time doing that and not creating content, the key to getting some quick momentum guys is creating content. So I would recommend getting one of these tools just for a seven day trial, 28 day trial, whatever, do a bulk amount of research, start putting these search terms in a spreadsheet, put some other info in there in terms of like the estimated volume, and the keyword difficulty, find as many super low competition keywords as you can, that you can target and just start writing content about this stuff. Because it’s low competition for a reason, you should be able to rank for it quite quickly. And like anything in this business. And you know, taking steps forward is way better than trying to make it perfect, you know, progress over perfection. And so I would definitely recommend doing that getting going. And then writing some content, which is the next stage of the process, right? We’ve talked about topical research keyword research how important that is, you know, not just writing about things that you are thinking about one Sunday afternoon, but actually keyword research is the foundation. But then you got to write content around that keyword.
Ben Donovan  28:49
So let’s talk Claire about what makes a good piece of content, the content and ways that you rank on Google the articles we’re seeing rank? What makes it good? Give us some some stuff here. Like, let’s start with length of the article. What should people be writing?
Claire Howarth  29:04
Yeah, well, I mean, people will have specific figures that they like to go for, I would say it should, in general, it should easily be over 1000 and go for length, if in doubt, because that’s going to show not only is that going to get people to spend longer on your site. As long as obviously, it’s high quality content, because there’s more for them to to explore. But it’s going to show Google that you are an authority, it’s going to give you more chance to include different keywords and to hit a number of different keywords. So So I think one thing that we maybe could have mentioned earlier is that once you’ve decided on that main keyword that you want to hit, you want to then go back and do some more research to find out what are related, highly related, highly relevant keywords that I can also put in here. So if we go back to the micro makeup brush thing, let’s say it’s you want to hit this key word. Can I use dish soap to clean my makeup brushes? That’s going to be probably a low key word difficulty keyword that you can easily hit and you want to call that your your piece of content is going to be called that that’s going to be your focus in the URL in the in the backend SEO stuff in the meta description, all that kind of stuff. But there will be other related keywords. That may be specific, maybe the same thing, but rephrased, so is it okay to use? Or does this work, which is going to be answering the same question, you can also be putting those keywords in there.
Claire Howarth  30:25
But there’ll be other things that are related as well that you definitely want to get in that in that same piece of content. Because you know, that people who are interested in whether or not they can use dish soap, are probably also interested in whether or not they can use shampoo. So let’s say you then find keywords that say, Can I use shampoo? Can I use this can I use? Which other household ingredients? Can I use? Or you know, household cleaning products? Can I use at home to clean my makeup brushes? What is the best way to clean my makeup brush? And then you may even want to go expand it along? And have it linked to other pieces of content that are that are you know, how long do I leave it to dry for what’s the best way to dry and makeup brushes after you’ve washed them and so on. So make sure you do that research as well to really maximize the opportunity, you have your your main keyword that you found, which is a great opportunity that you really want to hit. But there will be a bunch of other relevant keywords that are likely to also be low keyword difficulty because of the nature of the topic. And especially with it being so usually so niche that you want to try and include as well. And so that so when you will be talking about it being several 1000 words long, you might think how can I possibly waffled for that long? You could but don’t don’t waffle for that long.
Claire Howarth  31:35
Give them some some clear quick wins, tell them the answers. Don’t hide the answers at the end of a blog post after they’ve had to read for 1000s of words, because they were going to just get annoyed. They’ll they’ll click out your site. And it will show Google that people don’t like what you have to put out there. But make sure that you give them those quick wins of here’s the answer. And here’s a ton of stuff that you also really want to know. Well, here’s part of the answer. And now read on To find out more really useful information that you don’t want to miss out on. And that’s really how you can create a blog post quite easily. You know, plan out what you’re going to include, write it quite quickly, with just a little bit of research, you don’t have to be a massive expert on the topic because there’s all this wealth of information that’s already out there for you. You’re just repackaging it in a better way than has it has previously been presented. And that’s what’s going to help you to rank.
Ben Donovan  32:27
Absolutely. And I think you come to a key point there where you’re talking about the kind of experience that the user has, we saw from trying to think of how can I, especially in the Amazon space, how can I hack this system? How can I game the algorithm, and Google can still be gained, as we talked about with that keyword that was hidden age before. But on the most part, you know, Google’s algorithms are advancing getting better all the time. And their chief aim is user experience. And one of the key metrics that will harm you is if someone goes onto your page, there is a term for a boomerang BB anon. That’s right. Yeah. But like that when they go back and forth, pogoing, that’s right. Yeah, they go to one page, and then come back to Google, go to the next page. Okay, it’s really bad signal for Google because it shows them that they you haven’t satisfied the search intent of the user. And so if you try and be spammy, and try and save the secret answer to right down the bottom, just so they read to the bottom, you know, that’s not going to work, like give them the answer they’re looking for, but hook them in with other stuff, you know, have a good, big part of it is having a good intro that talks, you know, addresses the pain points of the reader and tells them, hey, we’re going to answer this for you. But we’re also going to share some great information about this, this and this, and it gives them a reason to, you know, to keep reading on so yeah, absolutely. user intent is the key.
Ben Donovan  33:47
And as you say, click loads of related keywords to that keyword. But we still do want to target just one specific keywords on the whole, right, we want to make sure that there’s a main keyword we’re trying to rank for. And the rest are kind of as a bonus. And then also, when it comes to just the singular keywords, make sure that you don’t do multiple posts about the same keyword, we want to make sure that there’s one focused page per keyword to show Google this is the one we want to rank for, for this topic. So
Claire Howarth  34:19
that’s right. Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing when I’m talking about including different keywords, it’s really reflecting the fact that the whole way that Google’s algorithm is designed is supposed to understand as you were saying, what people want. You know, it’s it’s an incredibly advanced and sophisticated technology. That is getting better all the time at learning what people are looking for. And so when you’re including a number of different keywords that are another ways, other ways of saying the same thing. Although you want your main keyword to be in the title, you need to be on with those key areas, and the one you really focus on, that’s really just it’s just showing Google that it’s a natural way for you to talk about that topic, I think we can over it you can hear a lot about, you know, you need to include these kinds of words, to show Google that you you’re all legit.
Claire Howarth  35:09
Maybe we overthink some of these things. Because really just write good quality content. And if you speak and in that, if you write in a natural way, that is give it is informative, you will be riding like a normal, you know, like a person of authority, you will be using the right kinds of words. But it just doesn’t hurt to be intentional with okay, there’s a couple of other exact key words that I can use word for word that I can make sure I just get in some term has subheadings make sure I just put them in somewhere else a little bit. That’s going to be an extra thing. So so we had one of our top ranking pages is a piece of content, like I said at the beginning that we we created a couple of months ago. And we had that just that one keyword. But there are a load of other keywords that were ranking for now that I will position 1 2 3 4 5 times in on page one. And that is because
Ben Donovan  36:02
Sorry, I thought it sorry. I think how many we’ve done. I don’t know how many 20 30 articles maybe?
Claire Howarth  36:08
Yeah, about 35 I think yeah,
Ben Donovan  36:10
but ranking for around like 600 different keywords. So just Yeah. prove your point.
Claire Howarth  36:15
Yeah, yeah. And, some of those were ranking for, you know, I don’t know, 20 keywords from just that. Whereas our initial intention was just that one. And some of those keywords will be ones that we didn’t even intend we didn’t even know existed. But because we’ve created a piece of content that’s including the right kinds of things, it’s but it’s sending the right information to Google, we’re managing to rank for that. So I think it’s just it’s just bearing that in mind. But you’re right, you don’t want to be trying to be spammy with every single keyword under the sun. And you don’t want to be too diverse, you need to pick that main keyword that is your your absolute focus.
Ben Donovan  36:47
Yeah, definitely. So when possible, get the keyword as the URL that slug as it’s called. So after It is how to clean makeup brushes, or if he for example was and then have that in the title as well, again, where possible and exact form. If it doesn’t make grammatical sense, don’t write something that doesn’t make grammatical sense just to satisfy the keyword. Remember, it’s about user intent as well. And so but where you can do that, and then include it in the first paragraph, ideally, and also at least one header in the article. So headers against something, we don’t have time to go into this. But like I said, we are working on doing like a full step by step process of how we’re doing this inside of BBU. And we will have a checklist for you, which will have some more pointers on it as well. But then the final thing to make sure you include in your content, if you are doing informational content is to not completely avoid the fact that you’re selling products, right, you know, you don’t want to have this content is completely unrelated, is actually find ways to weave your content into, you know, if you are selling, you know, makeup brushes, and you’re talking about how to clean them, you could say our makeup brushes have a very cleaning friendly, head, whatever, I don’t know, the example. You get my point is like, try and weave that in there. Even if it’s an article that isn’t necessarily a buying intent keyword is, you know, at the end of the day, you are a business, you do have products for sale? And isn’t there’s nothing wrong with weaving that into your articles.
Claire Howarth  38:18
Yeah, and making sure that people always know what to do next. So so this piece of content I’ve talked about a couple of times that that we’re getting a lot of traffic from, what I realized after a couple of months was that, wow, this is amazing. We’re getting all these people, you know, organically discovering our site. But the bounce rate was was pretty high. And it was because when I created it, I didn’t put enough thought into what will people do once they have consumed this information. So they were spending time on that that page, people were enjoying that page fine on that page, but not then moving on to do other things in our site. And we’re kind of losing them. So I would just say as well, once you’ve created content, make sure that you’re keeping an eye on what’s happening, look at look at the you know what the figures are telling you and see how long are people spending reading it? What are they doing next? Are they going anywhere else on the site? Or are they just going straight back out to Google because they’ve got everything that they wanted.
Claire Howarth  39:16
And people don’t just go straight back to Google because they hate what you’ve you’ve put out they might love it. But if you don’t give them somewhere to go next, why would they stay so then so what I’ve had to go back in and do is make sure I’ve added in some more internal like links that I’ve got to sign up for our email list and then you know, the lead magnet that we have on offer and you know all these different things so so what I would hope and expect now is that that will start to improve that people will be coming and spending more time and moving on to other sites parts of the site as well just so because I’ve given them that opportunity and that invitation to do that. So that’s just something I would say it’s something to keep monitoring keep an eye on and make sure that you’re capturing people as well that you’re giving them some way to respond to that isn’t just, oh, well, that was helpful. And now I’m going again.
Ben Donovan  40:06
Yeah, good, good. Okay. So the quote unquote perfect blog post, is a good length doesn’t have to be like the longest ever. But it answers satisfies a search intent and gives a good amount of information for the user, the longer the time they spend on the page, the better. It’s good signals for Google. So you know, good length, targeting one keyword, a good intro that hooks the reader a number of different headings that then answer and address different topics that are related to that answered the question quickly in the article, so that you’re not just keeping people are hanging off, and a reason to live it extra value in the article, introduce your products and services, and then always, always, always have a call to action. That would be a brief summary, there’s so much in there that we don’t necessarily have time to go into on a podcast, but just if people want something actionable, just to start with, and remember, guys is better to implement and then improve later than just try and wait till you’ve got the perfect article.
Claire Howarth  40:59
Yeah, definitely.
Ben Donovan  41:02
We look back at our first stuff now. And we think, man, you know, that’s crazy how much things have improved since then. But we never would have got to where we are today and really powering on with this, if we haven’t taken steps forward. Then when it comes to writing, Claire, like, what if people say, I don’t have the time? Like, a first question is, how long is it generally taking you to write this, this content, and then be just give us some creative ideas, some of the things you’ve been doing to also create content that’s cut down the amount of time to do it.
Claire Howarth  41:31
Yeah, so just this kind of the evolution of our content for our shared brand over the last couple of years, started off just doing everything myself. And we it’s very visual will obviously depend on what you are offering. But the nature of what of what we offer is that there really the content has to be very visual. And a lot of its instructional, and you kind of need to show people how things look and, and engage in that way, especially with it being focused around families and children. So initially, I was having to create all this content, and I was creating it from scratch. And I was even doing videos and photos. And you know, I am the least qualified person to do photography and videography, I have no clue, you know, I was using, like, terrible technology. And thankfully, by some miracle, you know, well, it’s not miracle as SEO, we managed to hit some keywords, and actually some of some of our, you know, videos on YouTube on our YouTube channel, I’ve managed to get quite a number of views and, and we’ve seen an impact, you know, on our blogs as a result of that, and some of our blogs have have started to rank quite well because of that as well.
Claire Howarth  42:36
But the quality of it was not great. And it was you know, and it was not sustainable. For me as a business owner. It’s not where I needed to be spending my time. And I realized that quite quickly, especially once we actually started to sell products and launch new products. So we kind of moved on from that stage where I started to crowdsource a lot. So I was looking at social media and trying to engage with Instagram accounts, who would want to collaborate with us. You know, if you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of time, and you feel like I have this startup note, I’ve got no Instagram, I’ve got no social media following nobody visits my site, I’ve got nothing to offer. I’m on a budget to spend, don’t go after don’t start messaging people who’ve got you know, 10s of 1000s of followers on Instagram and see and say can I join to collaborate with me for fun up basically now for backlinks that aren’t worth anything.
Claire Howarth  43:27
Just go after people you know, you can find some great content. Now people can take such good videos and phones on their sorry videos and pictures on their phones, go on social media and find some accounts that you think would want to collaborate with you that may even even just be a couple of 100. But they’re people who will be willing for the exposure that you give them to collaborate with you and say, Look, I just want it I love what you’re doing. This is who I am. And I want to share what you’ve got, and do some roundup posts, and use other people’s content in a legitimate way where you give them credit. You know, a roundup post, if you hate writing, you don’t spend hours and hours. Roundup posts are so easy and quick to do you see a little bit of research. If it’s somebody’s personal social media account, especially if it involves children or something like that, then I would definitely ask their permission. But either way, we always give credit, where we do that we don’t usually reach out to every single website that we reference, you know, that’s kind of going to be a big time consuming thing. And the way I see it is if you have a blog that is out there on the internet and you you clearly want everybody to see it, then you’re gonna be happy with it anyway.
Claire Howarth  44:36
But you know, we credit people, and that’s how I, we kind of moved on from me not having to create all this stuff myself, to being able to crowdsource it and start to do something that’s a lot more sustainable. And then, and then we kind of moved on, I think with this QA strategy just really helped as well because I began to see more specifically what people were looking for, rather than filling in the dark a little bit with some of these key words, and that the more specific you can be, the easier it is to write. And stuff that I think if you are absolutely not sure where to start, you can do roundup posts, or another great option is to do a really specific answer to a question something like, can I, you know, try to find those keywords? Because you can google yourself, can I? Yes, I can. All right. Okay. Well, I’ll just write, you know a little bit about that. And I’ll make sure that I add in, like we said, those other pieces of information,
Claire Howarth  45:30
Excuse me, so. So that’s kind of the direction that we’ve gone in is now to start to create some really some because some content that’s just really quick wins. Because we’re not having to focus on creating lots of images and videos ourselves from scratch, we can use other people’s with their permission. And we can do stuff that I can just use a bunch of stock photos for as well, that is answering questions for people.
Ben Donovan  45:53
That’s good. I think there’s so many ways that you can speed up the process of writing, obviously, you could outsource it, there’s like iWriter, or pro blog writer and Upwork, and all that kind of stuff that you could outsource it. But if you do want to be creative with it, I mean, I have seen websites, actually, because we use a service called Horo HJR, oh helper reporter out and to to help with getting backlinks because they will Help a Reporter Out. It’s something where you get people that are looking for a story or an angle or some comments on something, and you are literally helping a Reporter Out and you give them your feedback. And if they published what you’ve given them in the article, they’ll put a link on that article to your website. And I have seen a number of people now build crazy volume using a strategy whereby actually they flipped on his head.
Ben Donovan  46:44
Excuse me, now you got me coughing.
Ben Donovan  46:45
They’re flipping on their head, and they are posting on horror because it’s free. You don’t need to pay anything you just put on HARO, you know, I’m looking for contributions on XYZ topic. And Claire, I’ve mentioned this to you, we need to do this for our brand as well, is a post saying you know, we’re looking for contributors for an article will please tell us why you think this is the case in this field, your opinions on this matter, whatever the topic may be. And you’ll get 20 30 40 50 different submissions of people with a couple of sentences, a couple of paragraphs about why they feel it’s the case. And all you need to do then he’s picked the best ones, assemble them on the headlines, link back to those people. And then the added bonus is when you publish the article, you tell them hey, we featured your comments in our article, we’ve linked to you in it. And we’d appreciate if you did that not everyone will. But that’s going to be some potential backlinks for you then as well. So, you know, I think we’re gonna start to do a bit more of that. Because it’s, you know, such an easy way to create a won’t all be crazy optimized content in the same way, maybe we would do a full blog article. But it’s just a way to get some volume content out there. So anyway, just a bit of a thought for you, the audience and for you, Claire and for me, and we need to be doing some of that. So always learning there’s so much to learn in this industry. It’s crazy.
Claire Howarth  48:07
Yeah, I think just the important thing is if you’re starting out from scratch is to not feel overwhelmed, there are there are simple things you can do. There are simple ways to create content that you can do with not very much time with free stock photos with just a little bit of research. And the great thing is, is that now, you the style of blog writing is very informal. It’s very conversational. It’s very approachable. And so you can you can just kind of imagine that you’re talking to a friend and and just write and not worry too much about you know, you’ve got you’ve got free spell checkers like Grammarly, which is super useful. You know, there’s a lot there are so many tools you can use now that you don’t need to feel paralyzed on this or feel that you have to pay somebody else to do it. If that’s not an option for you, you can create good content in not that much time. Just with a little bit of help, and with some free tools and a bit of practice.
Ben Donovan  49:05
Definitely get started. That’s the key, isn’t it? Yeah, we’ve over time exactly started. Final thing very briefly, because obviously, time is running on a little bit. But just a final thing, obviously, you’ve got your topic of research, you’ve got the writing of the article. And then when it comes to search engine optimization, there are some things you can do to optimize the SEO side of it on page. And so let’s just briefly talk through a few bits of that formatting and how we’re writing these articles, again, for us has been a gradually improving or optimized kind of thing. So you know, when we started, we might write these big old paragraphs of content. But now we’re really focused on writing short sentences. You know, two to three sentences in a paragraph at most because we want to break up the text really again, thinking about what’s the best for the user user friendly experience. Someone comes onto your patient sees a giant wall of text. Most people are going to tune out. And so we need to make it short sentences, short paragraphs, format text with bold italic images as well. Lots of image rich articles really are going to be, you know, key Hey, Claire and text formatting, font size, all that kind of stuff. That’s something that you do as like a regular thing now, right?
Claire Howarth  50:20
Yeah, and, and just bear in mind that you, you can go into Google Analytics or you know, the backend of Shopify or whatever you’re using, and find out very quickly how people are viewing your site, if it’s on mobile or on desktop, but the chances are, it’s going to be on mobile most of the time. And increasingly, that’s the case, so. So just bear in mind, and what’s this experience gonna be like for somebody who’s working on a small screen, even though mobiles are often you know, in general getting bigger, and those kinds of devices are getting bigger, it’s still going to be a smaller screen, it’s going to be squished down a little bit. And so what might seem to you to be a really ridiculously short paragraph will not look ridiculous when you’re reading it on mobile. So I think just bear those in mind. And the same thing with font sizes. And the same thing with the number of headings, you might feel like, you know, you have one heading, you have an h1, header at the top, and then you’re going to just do it, you know, a couple of h2, I would say, you want to really want to have as many sub headings as you can to really to break up into take people on a journey through that. That piece of content, especially if it’s if it’s especially lengthy one. And I know that with very long guides, which have a huge amount of information, and you want to have a table of contents at the beginning as well, which is something that I think I think you’ve you’ve been doing maybe because of the the nature of the content that that you’d be putting out for BBU is different to what we’d be doing for our shared brand.
Claire Howarth  51:45
But so it’s not something that I’ve done. I know that can be another way of basically just doing whatever you can to help guide people through the piece of content that you’ve created. Another thing you can do is bridges, where you just have, you know, a short one sentence or a few words that lead people on to the next section. It can even be something like, print smart, right? You know, something that just you think, Okay, does that really need to be on a separate line, it’s just a visual thing, anchor that helps, it kind of helps people find where they are on the page, and it takes them on to the next bit. You can say, oh, read on more here, you know, whatever it is, but but take those opportunities to regularly remember, okay, and as I’m taking specimen Jas journey, here’s what we’re going to do next. And now check this out and make sure you don’t miss this. Whatever you can do to help people engage with it and not lose their place to find it very readable. And to feel like they’re in a conversation as well, I think is important, because people are more and more getting used to that informal, very conversational tone of voice. And so they’re looking for that. And that’s what’s going to make them feel at ease, rather than, you know, super long words, and something that’s really quite difficult to get into.
Ben Donovan  51:58
Yeah, and an absolutely essential point, you mentioned about mobile, think through the mobile experience. Sometimes, you know, I was writing stuff thinking, Oh, it’s only four or five lines for the paragraph. It’s not a crazy long paragraph. But then you look that on mobile, and it’s like two whole scrolls of a mobile screen. So you know, really, on a desktop, often, a lot of the stuff I’m doing is like single line, double line, absolute noise, because then when you translate that onto mobile, it’s your still takes up a good chunk of the screen. So the more time you can get people to spend on your webpages, the better signals it’s going to send to Google. Because it’s showing Google your content is good. And that’s we’ve come full circle, right all the way back. Knowing people. That’s the foundations of it is just good content.
Ben Donovan  53:40
And the final other couple of things that you should be doing and make sure you’re aware of is internal linking is making sure that you’re linking between posts. Again, that’s another signal to Google that these topics are related that you are, you know, a growing topical authority on the matter. And so make sure you are linking to relevant posts from within your articles. And also we make it a habit to do you know, two or three External links out to authoritative websites, again, showing Google that you don’t think that you have all the answers. But you are pointing to authorities in your niche to show that you are citing credible sources, it helps the trust factor with your website, which is a big thing to really build up over time. So those are some final little things you can do with on page optimization. There’s probably 100 things we haven’t covered in this interview so far, but it is nearly an hour already. So we will get we will leave it for there. But like I said, we are going to have a complete checklist. This is going to be a Google sheet where you can go through and you can check off you know setting up your website to be SEO friendly. You know, creating each of the posts to be SEO friendly from your title to your meta description to your h1 h2, h3 and if you don’t know what any of those are, that’s why you need to get this checklist because it’ll explain it for you. And we are also working on a complete step by step course inside of BBU. So keep an eye on after that, Claire, thanks so much for coming on and helping me.
Claire Howarth  55:03
Thank you
Ben Donovan  55:04
Making sure this wasn’t a complete monologue and kind of sharing your insight. It’s been fun this journey. And I don’t know about you, but I’m just super excited to see where this compounding effect of SEO takes us over the next few years.
Claire Howarth  55:16
Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Ben Donovan  55:19
Awesome. Alright guys, thanks for joining us on this episode today, grab all of the stuff I talked about in the description below. And I will see you in the next episode real soon.