Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Small Business Marketing Insight Tip #7 - Wordpress, SEO, and technical hocus-pocus

(photo credit: augustinrouchon)
All things build in Wordpress SEO marketing - especially for small businesses.

(Warning: technical search engine optimization verbiage ahead - not for the faint at heart...)

Your blog has to have good content, but it also reflects your business plan. Like the Russian nested dolls (matryoshka's), everything builds around the earlier one.

This is one thing that has kept me from really building out my own sites, that I kept finding another doll inside the one I was working with. Right now, I think I'm close to the smallest possible one.

Now: follow this chain of thought -
  • Each product line you have - and we are talking mostly info products, although this is applicable widely - should have it's own mail-list (autoresponder series, or A/R).
  • These product lines build into your product funnel. Cross-sales and up-sales. "Would you like fries with that?" and "Supersize your order?"
  • As well, if you can set up mini-sites for each product line, that drives both SEO/linklove and keeps product lines distinct.
However, if you have a single Wordpress-driven site (and this is currently the best and easiest way to build sites), you have a common template for all pages. Means you can only promote a single A/R opt-in - or nothing.

The solution is to do custom templates and set up every category as a subdomain.

This essentially gives you a mini-site, since (for the time being) Google classifies each subdomain as it's own domain. Of course, they are all on the same IP address, so you won't get the real linklove you deserve - but organizationally, this starts to un-nest those dolls... Here's how it works:
  1. Get a plug-in to make your categories into subdomains (there are several out there - I'm still evaluating them).
  2. Set a custom template for each one. Means you can put an opt-in form for that product on that set of pages.
  3. Your category pages then talk about a specific product line - in my case, it's best seller famous authors who have written self-improvement books. (At that link, you may find I haven't implemented this yet - life itself is a work in progress, and this blog is to brief you on the news as I find it - excuses, excuses. )
Now, this doesn't mean you can't have a static landing page. Just write a static page with your sales pitch and then set it to be a daughter page (junior) to another page on the site. (I'm not a big fan of landing pages, since I tell people how they work on my marketing sites. I then have to be far more honest and less hype-driven. Once you know how sales pages work, they are ineffective - but there is always the Collier method...)

Your external articles, remote blogs, other video content - all these can now link to your subdomain - or within that to a specific post. Or they can link to a specific static page, which then links to that subdomain (which might even get you more linklove).

The idea is to make it as simple as possible for your viewers and for the search engines.

Search engines see: keyword-subdomain.memorable-domain.com/keywordphrase.php

Because you set your Wordpress Blog to lay out the category and post title in the permalinks - and your categories become the subdomain.

With me so far? OK, so I need to do a complete write up on this at some point with sequences and everything - and as I re-release the Online Millionaire Plan (under different title, same brand), I'll get this out to you. (And as you subscribe to this blog, you can be the first to know...)

But your categories are your main keywords, right? How do you know that you have the right categories before you make them into subdomains?

Next point: supercharging your keyword lists with RankTracker

(That link above tells you briefly how and why to use RankTracker - and I really probably owe you a video on this.)

I was messing around a couple of days ago and found how to pick your categories when you're looking for keywords.

Simply, I was wanting to see how usable two keywords were. However, they gave me tons of new stuff. And within that new stuff were more categories I could use.

Essentially, you look up your keywords in the Google Adwords KeywordExternalTool, then get these text files and drop them into RankTracker. This program then finds your KEI - you then take anything above 100 and run it through Suggest->WordTracker and find the related high KEI terms. Copy/paste these into a spreadsheet and sort - at least that was the earlier method.

Now: watch closely...
  • Taking that whole set of keywords once you're finished finding keywords with the WordTracker step - now, take out your low KEI and low traffic keywords. Save your work.
  • Copy/paste the whole long link into your spreadsheet (I use OpenOffice - your mileage may vary.)
  • At this point, you can search within OpenOffice for keywords ("find all") and then assign a background color to that series of KW. Makes your spreadsheet look very nice and easy to see relative values of keywords to each other - even if they are disrelated. But hang on there...
  • Sort by competition and insert a row between everything above 3mil. Color it something distinctive. Now sort everything above that color bar by KEI, first by number of keywords in ascending order and then by KEI in descending order. What you wind up with is high KEI terms which have too much competition. (You have the spreadsheet do both sorts at once, so your 1-word KW's show up in KEI order above you 2-word KW's, etc.)
  • Now, take each of those terms at it's base ("biblical" and "bible" have "bibl" as a base, "christian" and "christ" have "christ" as a base) and search for these in RankTracker. This gives you all related terms which a search engine will also find.
  • Copy/paste your search results into a second sheet on the spreadsheet - one after the one you put the entire list on. Rename it with the keyword base you just searched for.
  • Do this for all the top KEI single-term keywords you found. Each base term gets its own page on the spreadsheet - just add more until you have everything you want.
  • Then sort out the pages by competition, then by KEI and you'll have what you want. (See the note below on this sequence if this is new to you.)

And you now have your publishing sequence. Work from the top down with articles and blog posts, etc. and you'll then take over that high KEI single term keyword as you take over the smaller niches.

Discussion

Where you find a high KEI search term that has few subordinate long-tail niches, you can skip it. Example: "Spirituality" search gives "healing", which gives "crystals". Related terms also gives you "crystal meth", "Crystal Gunn" (porn star) and "crystal balls". While crystal ranks high, if you take this down to only healing-related keyword phrases, you have little to work with. If you want to talk about crystal balls, there's a lot to talk about. Otherwise, no. "Bible" on the other hand, is massive with ripe keyword phrase niches. (But it's been around some 4,000 years...)

So your base terms (tidied up for your viewers - add the 'e' back to Bible) become your categories. Your long-tail niche keywords are the basis for your post names. As your categories become your subdomains - Google then thinks this particular (subdomain) site is all about Bibles, since every post on it discusses some other aspect about Bibles. And linklove is spread all around, since you will have pagerank just for that subdomain - while your crosslinks then share it with your ecommerce site.

And as you do your keyword searches, you'll find more categories - which can simply be added to your site, and they can be turned into subdomains, etc. etc.

That's a bit thick above, but when you do it for yourself, it becomes very clear. (Yes, I need to do a video on this, don't I? Well, as I can get to it, I will - look for the revamped Online Millionaire Plan coming to an embedded YouTube video near you...)

The point is that now you don't have to guess at what categories to use. You simply go after the top keywords by publishing effective content, properly optimized, which takes over the long-tail niche phrases. These then start ranking you higher for the high-competition, shorter keywords.

And since your subdomain is (currently) given the importance of a site, you are now creating a niche site just for that exact keyword. Google will love you for this one.

With separate templates for each subdomain, you can tweak up these subdomains to actually look like different sites - like mini-sites - and have them all crosslink neatly.

(And if you really wanted to take this right on out, you'd set up WordPress MU for a multi-user environment - and then you'd really have separate mini-sites for each product. But your maintenence costs - in terms of time - really expands with this idea. By having everything on one blog, you can then simply add more content without having to log into each blog, etc. I guess you could do it as an administrator...)

Subdomains with custom templates look to be the most elegant application at this point.
  • Linklove - Google treats these as separate domains, each cross-linking, so greater trusted authority for each.
  • Segregated product lines - so you can actually maintain several diverse lines without conflict. Someone who knows all about Dogs isn't expected to know much about Bibles.
  • Customized user experience, so you can tweak each subdomain template to get better conversions without changing your main template.

But you still have to surf each subdomain as a newby user and see that the way you have your template makes sense for that subject area - "sense" is what the viewer expects to find.

- - - -

Setting up your spreadsheet to make the best of your keywords from RankTracker.

Here's the sequence:
  1. You have your spreadsheet and RankTracker open, with your keywords searched the way you like them.
  2. In RankTracker, delete any keywords less than 2.0 in KEI and less than 20 in traffic. Don't delete anything else.
  3. Now, copy and paste the entire KW list into your spreadsheet (the registered/paid version of RankTracker allows you to do this...)
  4. Sort your whole list on the spreadsheet by competition, ascending (biggest toward the bottom).
  5. Insert a (colored) row between everything above 4 million.
  6. Select and sort only that bottom section by KEI, descending (biggest toward the top).
  7. Sort everything above that bar by traffic, descending.
  8. Insert a row at less than 100, and then color it.
  9. Sort this middle section by KEI, descending.
  10. Now, sort the top section by KEI, descending.
What do these sections mean?
  • Bottom section gives you your top keywords to take over.
  • Top section gives you the sequence of content to publish to do that.
  • Middle section is full of "less profitable niches" as traffic is lower - so you have to write more content to get the same amount of total traffic. But competition is waaaay lower, so...
Why these arbitrary numbers?
  • About 1 percent of sites are properly/accidentally optimized. By taking 3 million competing , you will wind up (roughly) with 30K pages to compete with (WordTracker says that's a niche). Analyzing the top 10 out of these sites will give you what you need to do to compete with/out-create them effectively.
  • You want at least 100 per day coming to your site. But the smaller traffic niches also usually have much lower competition - so if you can crank out pages, you'll be able to do five times the pages and have many times greater response. (Some niches actually have no sites optimized for them - easy pickings.)
  • If it doesn't have KEI above 2.0 or better, it's not worth your time. Some say 3.0 - but I've found that this throws out some hot sub-niches and can really limit your ideas for content.
  • You can pick any numbers you want, though. Try them out and you'll see what works best for you.
- - - -

OK? Well, I've got to run - a lot of content to produce on top of everything I'd already scoped out.

If you have a better idea or just think this is crock - feel free to comment...
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