It’s easy to get caught up in our own field of dreams. We have an amazing idea. We’ll build a website. People will materialize out of the cornfields of the digital world and buy from us. Sounds like heaven, but here’s a reality check:
You can have the world’s best idea. You can build a gorgeous, functional website.
But if people don’t know about your site, nobody is going to come.
You need an SEO plan.
My family takes an annual trip to Iowa to visit my in-laws, and as we were driving through the fields of corn & soy this past summer, I started thinking about how often we expect results without putting in the leg work.
We’ve been told — not only by movies like “Field of Dreams,” but also by internet gurus sharing 6-figure weekends & overnight success stories — that building a thriving business is easy, if you follow a dream or a formula.
But as a designer who’s built dozens of client websites, I’ve seen first hand how disappointing it can be to spend hundreds of hours & thousands of dollars creating something for your business, only to have nobody find it.
So here are 3 suggestions to make sure that you fill up your own personal Field of Dreams by creating an SEO plan.
First base: Listen to your audiences’ questions
If you want to be found by search engines, figure out what information people are searching for.
My favorite great resource to put your figurative ear to the ground? Answer the Public.
Type in any topic, and questions that people have recently asked will show up on display. This can be a great jumping off point for blog posts & content creation.
For example, I typed in “healthy eating,” and sample questions included a wide variety of topics that real people are searching, like: “how healthy eating affects your skin”; “why healthy eating is important during pregnancy”; and “which is better: eating healthy or exercising.” (Also, this gem of a question: “why do eating healthy farts stink?”)
Second base: Create an editorial calendar that supports your goals
I’m a doctor design strategist, not a copywriter; so instead of explaining the do’s and don’ts of editorial calendars, I’ll refer you to some of my favorite copywriters & content strategists who are experts in this field:
(Note: I’m lucky enough to have great relationships with all these copywriters, and if you’re struggling with content creation, I highly recommend reaching out to any of them with whom you feel a connection after reading through some of these posts.)
- Why a Blog Editorial Calendar Could Revolutionize Your Business – Lacy Boggs
- The Content Strategy that Wins Every Time – Sara Frandina
- How to Research Your Audience & Write Copy They Can’t Ignore – Natalie Taylor
- Do You Know Your Why for Writing? – Sara Barry
- Blogging and the art of self-forgiveness – Helen Tremethick
- Why Understanding Strategy Is Critical For Your Content’s Direction – Danielle Pastula
Third base: Include SEO keywords in your editorial calendar / SEO plan
I think the term “keyword” can be misleading. Yes, you could choose ONE WORD that summarizes your whole blog post; but instead I encourage you to explore “long tail keywords,” which are more specific and less competitive than their one-word counterparts. Think of it this way:
A long tail keyword is a phrase that somebody would type into a search bar.
Here’s an example: Melanie is a functional nutritionist who helps people incorporate healthy changes into their eating habits. Recently she had a YouTube video take off when she used the keyword “how to use collagen powder.” She didn’t try to answer every.single.question. about healthy eating; instead she narrowed her topic to a demonstration of just one product, and she used a keyword that somebody would type if they were interested in that demo.
Looking for good long tail keywords?
- Google Keyword Planner — This is the industry standard for keyword research & planning.
- http://keywordtool.io/ — This is the most intuitive SEO research tool I’ve found for finding relevant keywords
Ok, now that you have your keywords figured out, it’s time to combine your editorial calendar with your SEO Plan.
Home Run: Your SEO Plan
Now that you have researched what your audience is searching for, figured out how to organize that data into content they can find & consume, and found relevant keywords that they might be searching for, it’s time to combine this into one giant document where you can keep everything straight.
Here’s a screenshot of my editorial calendar & SEO plan for the next few months: (And the anticipation of all this thrilling content is probably killing you! /sarcasm)
I have my date, title, keywords, call to action & a link to the draft — all consolidated into one place.
It can be a time-consuming process to figure all this stuff out in advance … but I promise that having a content strategy and an SEO plan will help grow your website traffic in a way that “random blogging & seeing what people re-post” will never accomplish.