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Targeting keywords and keyword stuffing are strategies that no longer work for content. Due to advancements in algorithms and AI, the focus needs to shift to targeting intent and getting customer engagement content to match it to searchers.
I know, I know. As a content marketer, you don’t exactly want to spend your valuable time working on dull content. Especially when there are a million-and-one other more exciting things to explore and discuss.
However, what’s deemed as ‘boring’ content can give some of the best results. Therefore, tackling content that isn’t exactly super trendy or exciting is something of a necessity.
Take the keyword “employee onboarding”, for example.
It’s got a volume of 1,300 and suggested to have “High” competition, so it’s not the most searched term in the world, and it’s also not the easiest to rank for. But the real power with “employee onboarding” is the long-tail keywords associated with it.
Each and every one of them has an incredibly high intent behind them (as you can see in the screenshot below), meaning their lower volume is highly likely to generate value.
Once we realized there was an opportunity for us here at Process Street to go for the keyword and rank highly, we seized that opportunity - and earned the #1 spot on Google’s front page for it.
This may be the point where you’re thinking how on earth we cracked the #1 spot for “employee onboarding”. Essentially, it came down to five main things:
- Guest posting
- Social bookmarking
- Creating supporting onsite content
- Updating old content
- Interlinking content
Alone, none of these tactics would have gotten us anywhere beyond the 8th page of Google - maybe the 7th page at best. But, together, they created a potent mix that slowly but surely boosted us to the top of the first page.
Now, let’s take a closer look at all five of the aforementioned elements, starting with guest posting.
1. Guest posting
Guest posting is one of the single most powerful techniques you can use to get your post ranking for a specific keyword. Although, you need to be careful not to push your luck. In our case, we knew that “employee onboarding” would be a fantastic and highly relevant keyword to have on our site, so we brainstormed a couple of methods of generating backlinks to boost its ranking.
Eventually, we decided to up our guest posting game and, where appropriate, include a link to it on as many different sites as possible. The aim was to get a wide span of backlinks rather than several from multiple articles on the same site because, with the latter method, it gives far less authority back with every repeated link.
When researching various topics to write on, we also added our notes to a shared document that the rest of the team could draw upon, and it certainly increased the pace we could write these posts, all while keeping on top of our regular recurring tasks.
As I said before, if you aim to go down the guest posting route, you have to be careful not to push your luck. If the site you’re submitting to has any particular submission guidelines, stick to them.
Don’t go link-crazy just because they’re interested in your pitch; the final product will either be rejected, or stripped of all of your links as a result. Finally, make sure that the quality of your post is high (i.e. well-written) because if you wouldn’t be happy accepting it onto your own blog, it’s unlikely anyone would want to put it on theirs.
Along with the backlinks created by guest posting, you should also be generating an initial boost of interest by submitting your article to various social bookmarking sites, such as Reddit and GrowthHackers. Just like guest posting, you need to be careful with how you go about doing it.
First up, you need to make sure the content you’re submitting is suitable for the site you’re targeting. For example, original data, A/B test results, and case studies (or really anything relating back to the hard analytics of product and content marketing) do well on Growthhackers, whereas a particular subreddit may create more interaction with your post than another.
So, if you’ve written a post on the history of SaaS for example, submitting the piece to /r/SaaS would be a better option than /r/Technology. The Redditors subscribed to /r/SaaS actively want to see SaaS-related content, while /r/Technology subscribers are interested in, well, pretty much everything tech-related, from Amazon to AI. That post, therefore, would be best suited to /r/SaaS.
Once you know where you’re submitting the post, you need to pay close attention to their rules or guidelines; if you break them, then you’ve both wasted your chance to promote that article, and potentially put a black mark next to any links from you on that social bookmarking site.
By submitting our employee onboarding post to GrowthHackers, Inbound, BizSugar, and other relevant outlets, we were able to generate an instant boost in traffic and social signals, which gave us a much-needed leg up in the race to rank for our keyword.
3. Creating supporting onsite content
Although we were creating great guest posts to help boost our chances of hitting that coveted #1 spot on Google’s front page, that didn’t mean we were neglecting our own blog as a fantastic resource to help with our ranking efforts.
In fact, that’s exactly why we created a ton of supporting onsite content - because it helped build our presence in that niche by targeting those long-tail keywords.
So, we wrote posts on how mammoth companies like Google go about the employee onboarding process, tips for other businesses on how to improve their onboarding process, and other onboarding-related content that readers would find valuable - and Google itself would appreciate.
To boot, we also made a ton of resources like onboarding templates and checklists for a whole array of business industries. (As a piece of BPM software, we offer templates and checklists to our users so they can keep their recurring tasks and processes in check.)
From call center employee onboarding to restaurant employee onboarding, we made sure there were actionable resources people would want to use immediately, helping further our authority in the niche of employee onboarding even further!
Proving you’re an authority in a certain subject matter will do wonders for your content related to that field, and Google will repay you by ranking that content highly.
4. Updating old content
The fourth tactic we used was to update our original post to ensure it was high enough quality. This served our purposes of ranking in the top spot twofold; the post already had some weight behind it due to the strength of our site and the age of the post (along with the previous interest it had gathered), and the update allowed us to attract a new audience with fresh info.
First, we added our onboarding templates to the post (which also helped with conversions, too).
Then, we updated the images within the post (for example, we added several graphs and updated the header images of the post and templates) to make it more visually appealing. The more visually appealing it is, the more likely our audience would stick around long enough to read the content and show Google the content was worthwhile.
After that, we added new videos to the post for extra value. Google loves it when you link to or embed various kinds of content, so this not only boosted our audience engagement, but naturally increased the post’s standing in Google’s eyes.
5. Interlinking content
In the above section, I told you how we updated the links in our older posts. But it wasn’t just old content we placed a focus on - we also needed to link to employee onboarding-related content in our newer posts.
Where relevant, we’d include appropriate keywords and long-tails, and then link out to our prime onboarding content.
Sound simple? That’s because it is!
In reality, it takes no time at all to interlink content like this. And if your team is creating multiple pieces of content per day - be it onsite posts or guest posts - that’s a lot of material you’re able to use for interlinking content, ensuring your target keywords receive the attention from Google they deserve!
Despite this method being so incredibly easy, it's an endeavor that’s more than worth it.
Well, just read this quote from marketing extraordinaire Neil Patel:
“When you link in your content you’re telling the engine that the target of your link is so relevant and important that you want your visitor to simply be able to click a link and go straight there. Basically, that what you’re linking to is potentially so relevant that the visitor may want to stop what they’re reading and go to the next page.”
For this method to be effective, though, you should ideally only link to the target post once or twice per post, so it seems natural. Otherwise, it’ll be completely obvious to Google that you’re trying to game the system, which certainly doesn’t go down well. Ergo: Don’t stuff the same link in a single post or piece of content too many times!
There you have it; the system for how we managed to rank #1 for what is very easily one of the world’s most boring topics. Never forget that the dullest topics can, sometimes, bring in the best results for your given market.
Author: Thom James Carter
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