Increasing your website’s Google visibility and doubling or even tripling your website traffic in 12 months is a scientific process. More than 15 years ago, we created a step-by-step program that helps publishers of all sizes to significantly increase their Google visibility and organic website traffic. It has become the first pillar in what we now call the Mequoda System.
Let’s walk through the step-by-step process that our audience development team has developed and refined over the years.
Step 1: Identify your keyword universe. The first step in hitting any target is to identify the target. Your website content has a natural universe of keyword phrases that can be identified, and the annual search volume for each of those phrases can be quantified.
For most of the websites we support, their keyword universe ranges between 5,000 keyword phrases and 20,000 keyword phrases. Annual search volume could be measured in the tens of millions or hundreds of millions. For very large websites with broad topics like health, travel, and investing, it could be billions of annual searches. Once you have identified your keyword universe, it’s now possible to measure your current Google visibility, which could be anywhere between zero and 100%. While our most successful websites can have visibility above 50%, there are many very successful websites with a Google visibility of less than 10%, especially if they’re competing in a large market where traffic is being dispersed over countless websites.
Step 2: Identify the competition. To identify the websites that are competing for the same keyword phrases you’ve identified in step one, we conduct an online market audit. We select a sample that might include 20 to 50 phrases, Google each of them, and track the websites that show up on page one of the search engine results. These websites are your key online competitors.
Once these competitors have been identified, we run each of their websites against your keyword universe to discover their Google visibility. With that data in hand, we rank your key competitors to see how visible the leading websites in your niche can become. This allows us to set a goal for your website’s visibility that looks at the resources and content for each of your competitors and objectively estimates how competitive your website can become once you begin the process of methodically doing the work required to increase your Google visibility.
This data can then be added to our proxy metric model to estimate how your website traffic will grow, which will ultimately power the other three pillars of our system: capturing new email subscribers, engaging and retaining those subscribers with terrific email and web content, and finally monetizing those relationships with a variety of business models and revenue opportunities.
Step 3: Create a blockbuster editorial calendar. The secret for getting lots of website traffic from the search engines is knowing that a relatively small number of posts, which we call blockbusters, will be and should be responsible for 80 to 90% of your total website traffic.
In this step, we use your past 12 months of website traffic to identify your initial blockbuster list, which could be anywhere between 100 and 500 posts, based on your depth of content and the frequency at which you publish new content.
Your blockbuster editorial calendar will document when each of your blockbuster posts will be updated and republished, plus the new posts that you will generate that could become future blockbusters. For most of our clients, their blockbuster calendar is somewhere between three months and six months long, during which time all of their blockbusters will be published or republished once.
Step 4: Optimize your blockbusters. Using our SEO scorecard, each of your blockbusters will be optimized around a 20-step, easy to follow protocol we’ve developed and fine-tuned over time. The protocol requires you to manage both primary and proximity keyword phrases, keyword density, and where keywords are placed in your content. This includes key areas such as headlines, sub-headlines, and metadata.
As a side note, we’ve discovered that audience development editors who are really good at this process often enjoy word puzzles, crosswords, and other mental exercises that involve mathematics and linguistics. We’ve also noticed that audience development editors who have strong copy-editing skills and are passionate about proper grammar make the best blockbuster post optimizers.
Step 5: Create new would-be blockbuster posts. Using a combination of domain expertise and keyword targeting from your keyword universe, your audience development editor will choose topics and phrases for generating new blockbusters. Most of our websites include a premium membership component with magazine articles, book chapters, or other premium content that is held behind a metered paywall, which is the fodder for the derivative would-be blockbuster posts. As a result, a great audience development editor doesn’t need to be someone with deep domain expertise, but simply someone with a solid familiarity with the topic who enjoys writing that is mathematically scored.
Step 6: Update your analytics. Each month, our analytics team prepares an in-depth suite of reports we call the audience development analytics suite that starts with the keyword universe and Google visibility reporting, and then adds additional variations of the data to identify top-performing posts and their interaction with your keyword universe.
Typically, within a few months of initiating our blockbuster audience development program, Google visibility begins to rise month after month. Our teams then continue to fine-tune their efforts and follow the momentum that we see in the search engine reporting. Your audience development editor is continuously coached by the data and our team on how to choose keyword phrases that are most likely to land your website on page one of a Google search engine results page.
We continue exploring how best to interlink posts within your website, how to manage links between free and premium content, link-building with other third-party websites and leveraging social media channels to drive organic traffic and to reinforce your search engine optimization program.
We’ve also discovered a strong link between blockbuster post success and how often the blockbusters are featured in a publisher’s daily email newsletter. Our hypothesis is that using your email newsletters to draw attention to blockbuster posts results in other third-party activities such as link building and social sharing. For this reason and others that are related to how your reader relationships can be monetized, we strongly support a daily email newsletter that uses a content stack of 3-10 posts, plus text ads and display ads that are revenue generators for your organization.
Step 7: Repeat the entire process above routinely. Our collaborative efforts on the steps above are constantly fine-tuned based on data and results. Every month, your audience development reporting is updated and used to course-correct the overall blockbuster audience development program so that momentum will continue to increase over time.