Search Engine Optimization is an important part of many Internet marketing strategies and in recent years, it has worked extremely well alongside strategies such as content marketing. If you are business located in Grand Rapids Michigan, and you want to rank your business on top of Google, we are the right Grand Rapids SEO company for you.
The general point of an SEO campaign is to influence search engine result pages and push your site to the top position for the desired keywords. In order to achieve this, our Grand Rapids SEO company uses quite a few tactics (that are explained in this article) and we find it very important to stick to Google’s Webmaster guidelines.
Employing good practices is very important in SEO because companies like Google frequently change their algorithms and penalize websites that are trying to “game the system”. Examples of such algorithm changes are the famous “Penguin” and “Panda” updates, as well as the lesser known “Hummingbird” and “Phantom” updates. There are many others that are probably kept secret and there is no telling when a new one could be implemented.
The consequences of these updates can be very severe for sites that are affected. The best case scenario is for the site to simply lose their rankings on a selected group of keywords. For example, if you have ranked for “Grand Rapids Dentist” you would not lose only that ranking but all the other you had. The worst case scenario is for the affected site to be completely removed from the search index. Depending on the severity of punishment, it can take anywhere between a few months and a whole year for this ban to be lifted.
Many websites have been penalized in the past and they had major problems because of it. In the past, many companies hired an agency that didn’t follow the Google Webmaster guidelines and as a result their site got penalized by Google.
Instead of focusing on high-quality content, natural link building and creating a recognizable brand, the agency used spam-based tactics to try and achieve quick results. This is not only a bad method to use, but very reckless as well, as their client has been penalized as a result. Unfortunately, we see this happen far too often.
Like in every other industry, there are no shortcuts in SEO. This is why it is important to use the best practices and work on the site’s SEO according to the Google Webmaster guidelines and recommended practices. We are a SEO company that completely follows these guidelines.
Let us move on and explain what these practices are and how we fine-tune our methodology to produce high-quality content and backlinks.
The importance of content for SEO
During the last few years, Grand Rapids SEO companies and internet marketing industry have mostly changed their focus toward producing quality textual content on their client’s websites. The purpose of this content is no longer only traditional marketing but also SEO, communication with potential clients, brand building and others.
This isn’t a new approach. High quality SEO companies have shifted their focus to content marketing as early as 2012. While others were still building mass links, buying links or posting on content farms, quality SEO agencies were building authentic links to quality content, which has proved to retain its effects long-term. Content marketing was important then, as there weren’t many who were part of it, and it’s much more important now when more and more companies are investing in it.
In a way, content marketing has become the new SEO.
What does quality content on pages do?
- it attracts links (linkbait)
- it gets social media signals (shares)
- it expands the range of keywords a website can rank for and with that in mind
- it also increases the number of visits for long keyword phrases (longtail)
- retains visitors on the website,
- gives them a chance to visit more than one page on a website (decreases bounce rate)
- a number of other positive effects
The listed benefits are the same ones you would like to achieve with an SEO campaign and more. These are also the main features that Google takes into account when calculating the authority of a website and determining its rankings.
The importance of content from the perspective of linkbuilding
One of the main segments of SEO experts is the job of building links to pages on the client’s website. When building these links, it’s important to keep in mind that Google actively looks for any irregularities that might show that a website is conducting an unnatural campaign. Because of this, we focus on the safe methods of link earning.
A link is earned when it’s a result of natural and moderated linking to quality content. If we have a website rich with top quality content, building links to it is drastically different from building links to a website with poor content or no content. With quality content „building links“ changes to „outreach“. Through communication with website owners from who we want to get links, we incentivize them to naturally link to our content, which is the crucial difference between earned links and unnatural links, where the content itself wasn’t good enough to link to.
The importance of content from the perspective of social media
By regularly posting quality content on the website, potential clients will be interested in following your brand on social media, e.g. on Facebook. The higher the quality of blog content and other content on the website, the greater the incentive to follow the brand on social media.
The importance of content from the perspective of a newsletter
Publishing top quality content on the website opens up the possibility of sending out an e-mail newsletter in which you can feature a selection of the best articles from your website. This is an additional chance for interacting with potential buyers
The true value of the newsletter is that people who subscribe to it are periodically invited to visit the website, and in this case, the invitation is completely legitimate because we’re giving them a heads up about a new, top quality article published on the website.
The quality of website content
People will be happy to promote top quality content from a website without any specific persuasion. E.g. when there is a forum discussion on a topic covered by an article on your website about that topic, some of the people engaged in it might remember your article and link to it. In this way they are recommending the article, and creating links to your website. This indirect promotion is the result of quality content. It can also be considered an example of an earned link we mentioned earlier.
By providing quality and useful content, you are not only giving people a reason to come back to your website but to promote your website on their own, it’s also sending out an impression of a friendly brand.
Content and Google rankings
Google’s priority has for a long time been stopping the buying and selling of links, with extreme penalties for people that bought and sold links. All approaches to a strategy that will be „future-proof“ from Google’s algorithm changes need to be focused on integrated marketing where all marketing channels are combined in a way that they help each other.
In other words, every good method of building or promoting a link is impossible without a top quality, interesting website or a section of it.
Google wants to rank websites that deserve to rank. It wants to rank top quality content, useful content and content that attracted links in a natural way, shared on social media and mentioned in other ways.
Published content needs to be promoted in order to achieve its potential and reach its target audience. Content that remains unknown isn’t useful. Here we’re entering in the domain of „content amplification“ which ensures that content gets to its target audience employing a number of needed promotional methods.
If you asked us to sum up the present and future on online marketing, this is what we’d say:
- All forms of content (text, image, sound and video) will become more important.
- Content is the centerpiece of all marketing efforts.
- Content is what needs to be promoted.
- Content will always continue to be profitable.
This picture nicely illustrates how today all important marketing channels are integrated into content. This is completely logical as the very name “web pages” says that these are digital “pages” of content. By producing and publishing quality content that’s interesting, educative, and focused on visitors and fans, we’re coming closer to Google’s ideal website that it wants to rank.
Taking everything said up until now we can say that today, good branded content is central for success. Companies that understand this principle and apply it every day in its business achieve great results in their respective industries.
Branded content in the digital world can be compared with branded materials in the physical world. The functionality of branded materials as pens, calendars and similar things translates into branded content on the internet, which is also a free „thank you“ for clients and visitors.
We implement our SEO in a way so that it’s as much as possible in line with what Google is encouraging. Google wants websites to provide actual value to their own (Google’s) users, and not be overly commercial.
From a check on majority of clients websites we can see that they focused too much on the commercial aspect. In fact, that is a common problem within this industry. The majority of competitors are also lacking in this area.
One way to provide value besides offering great service is to use content marketing. Many companies have blogs these days. That is one way of providing value, but this is just a start.
As we said, content marketing can be considered almost the same thing as SEO, because these days by using content marketing, we achieve the same SEO goals and we don’t get in trouble with Google.
Let us just explain the two types of content that can be used for SEO.
The first type of content is something that is attracting links. This can be called linkbait or link worthy content. There are a few ways to create link worthy content.
We have found long-form guides (or in other words tutorials) to be a great way to attract links to a website. You have to pick a topic that is relevant to your industry, but also aim it at a targeted audience and most importantly, you should first check if there is a lot of websites that might link to such content.
After the topic is determined, you should focus on writing such content for the next few months. For example, we have wrote guides that are up to 50 000 words long, these are basically books in a “guide” format.
Linkbait content in the promotion phase
When you have such content, what comes next is the promotion or link building phase. We first detect websites that are likely to link to this content.
This could be websites that have already linked to similar content, blogs that have wrote about similar topics, resource pages that are linking to such guides and anyone who we consider might be interested in this content.
When we prospect those websites, we filter out the bad ones we than outreach to them mostly via e-mail. Outreach is the standard for link building these days in the SEO industry.
If the content that is produced is awesome, 5-10% of the websites that are contacted will give you the link. This means we have to manually reach out to 100 websites in order to get 5-10 links.
As you can see, the key thing here is to have really awesome content first, because if you don’t have decent content, nobody will agree to link to you. When you have great, valuable content, it’s all about letting right people know about it, which will result in getting links.
The first type of content was aimed at earning more links to the website. The second type of content is content whose purpose is to target keywords you want to rank for on Google.
The core philosophy is simple: the bigger the website and more content pages for keyword variations it has, that more organic traffic and better rankings on Google.
However, the problem is to create such content that it doesn’t at the same time damage the user experience. There needs to be a logical reason for that content and page to exist, and such content also needs to be of high quality.
There are a couple of ways that can be used to create more content pages on your website that will rank for targeted keywords. We will explain these methods.
FAQ pages – most companies do them wrong. They have a list of questions on a single page. The better way to do it is to have a page for each question. This way, you are targeting more keyword phrases with more pages.
A knowledge base is one other similar method that could be used to cover a lot of keywords people actually type into Google.
Another way to achieve this would be to optimize the blog better for keywords. This would be a combination of topics that are aimed towards regular readers but also topics that can rank on Google for targeted keywords and bring in Google traffic.
A combination of these tactics will help your website become bigger with more content and as the domain authority increases via link building, this content will be getting more Google traffic.
The Importance of “Big Content”
The length of the content itself, on average, has proven to be a ranking factor. Google’s search algorithm favors high quality, long-form content that’s followed with other relevant (visual) media such as photos and videos. Several studies have confirmed this empirically, as you can see on the chart below. Pages with a high word count are usually in top results. Content that is over 2,500 words long usually dominates the top five spots.
The same studies also show that these top ranking pages get a lot more backlinks than their competitors who have much shorter content.
Finally, longer content performs better when it comes to generating shares on social media platforms.
Notice, however, the length of the content doesn’t always equal quality, which is why it is important to spend a lot of time perfecting your content. However, the advantages of having big/long content don’t stop here.
With “big content”, you can usually aim to cover some primary keywords that you need to rank for, but you also have the ability to naturally cover a lot of long-tail keywords. As such, it is very common for this type of content to rank well for long-tail phrases. Depending on the topic of the content, you could expect to directly improve the number of leads that you’re receiving.
Finally, there are a lot of advantages to creating quality content that don’t directly impact search results, but provide something very valuable for your brand. The main point here is that quality long form content establishes credibility and promotes thought-leadership. This is a very good way to reach out to a deeply invested audience of experts in your industry and establish a strong reputation.
Big content is also a key part of our outreach and link building campaign.
Namely, the purpose of this content is to leverage a method called “link bait” which makes natural link building a lot easier. The method revolves around the idea that with high quality content, people will link out to you because they want to, not because someone paid them. The better the content, the easier it is to get links. Our link building process is further explained later in this document.
Creating the Guide
So far we’ve talked a lot about the importance of high quality, long-form content and now we will put it all into context and show how you can use it to earn backlinks and generate leads. However, before you can jump to earning links you will need to create link-worthy content.
This is why creating a guide is an essential part of content marketing and link outreach strategies these days. As such, the creation of such guide requires extensive research of both the market and the selected topic(s). Once the topic of the guide has been decided, we can start creating it and preparing for the outreach phase.
The end goal will be to create a high quality guide that provides a lot of value and is well-suited to be your top linkbait material. When you have that, it will be easier to seek out potential linkbuilding and outreach targets – such as blogs, curated resource pages or influential individuals in the industry. However, it is very important that you choose a topic that will be interesting to a large number of user groups or else you won’t have enough outreach targets.
Because of this, finding the right topic can take a long time.
This guide should contain content that is targeted to your potential business clients. While they may not be your targeted audience from a sale’s perspective, they are a fantastic audience for link building outreach. Topics such as this are great exactly for that reason – they cover a lot of niche markets and provide many opportunities for link building.
To be more specific, the following advantages are very important for a guide to have:
- The topic is fairly wide. This means there is a lot to cover and write about – such topics are excellent for long-form guides and content marketing. The primary reason why this width is needed is to have access to enough websites that could link to it. A highly specific topic only reaches and interests a very narrow number of websites.
- You can target a lot of websites with link requests.
In fact, the whole point of content marketing (which is the basis for an effective SEO campaign these days) is not to write about your service, but to write about what interests your targeted, potential client.
Your guide should be just that – a relevant, long-form piece of content that will attract your potential clients. This is the sort of topic that interests them as it helps them achive their goals. Using this approach you provided value before you asked anything from them.
Along with the content, you should plan to deliver a brilliant design and structure. This will motivate even more people to share the guide with others. You should also integrate an email opt-in form on a guide so you can continue to communicate with readers who subscribed to your newsletter.
Such piece of content is great for achieving SEO goals and a great magnet for creating business leads.
Link building – You should separate linkbuilding campaigns in two basic phases. The first phase is the production of quality content that can be linked to (this is also called linkbait content or link worthy content). As explained before, you want your website to host a top quality guide that will enable you to get natural, authentic and safe links. Providing useful content to a target audience will make building physical links to the website easier and have a whole range of other positive effects on your marketing as explained before.
The second phase of the linkbuilding campaign is the promotion phase, which is done primarily through outreach. It consists of a number of steps. During the production of the guide, we research the influential websites and individuals in the target audiences we want to build links from. This is referred to as “prospecting”. A number of metrics should be tracked to make sure that the websites we are considering for linkbuilding are good quality and will bring you benefits in the longterm.
The problem with modern SEO is that the potential to get a website penalty from Google is maybe larger than the chance to get strong rankings. For this reason, it’s important to pay close attention to the linkbuilding process and look out for possible “unnatural” links.
By producing a high quality, useful guide as suggested, building links becomes safe and effective. Not only will Google not doubt the links towards that content, a number of other quality link building methods become possible and makes earning links easier.
Link building methods
Guest posts. Guest posting is a method of publishing articles on other people’s websites as guest authors and linking to your own resources from it. When choosing websites we want to work with, we only pick the ones we find are completely relevant to the resource you are linking and are of a high enough quality according to SEO metrics. Here you should look at domain authority and large social followings as the main objective metrics, but also give them a thorough subjective review (do you like the design, do you think there are too many ads on the website, do you like the quality of content published on it, etc.). This is how we do it.
Link requests. You should analyze content pieces and websites with a similar topic to see who linked or shared that content as this increases the chance for them to share or link to your content as well. After you have identified who linked to similar content then look for contact info and reach out with a link request.
Combined Broken Link Building & Resource/Links Pages. You should look for resource & links pages that link to tutorials and useful guides in your targeted industry and then reach out to them with a link request. Always check if there are dead pages or domains with a lot of inbound links on a similar topic. If that is the case, again reach out to all the websites linking to them, notify them about the broken link they have (providing value) and ask if they might be interested to link to alternative content.
Weekly Roundup’s & Egobait. There are other methods that can be used. Looking for round up blog posts inside the industry or linking to industry influencers inside your guide, and then reaching out to them and notifying them about that.
What is outreach and why do it
Outreach is the core SEO tactic in modern link building. It consists of finding a site you want a link from, contacting the person who runs it and asking for a link. It can be compared to a digital PR, with a purpose of earning a link. These days, PR and link building are overlapping to a great extent.
Outreach for link building is a process of reaching out to websites that you assume are likely to give a link after you send them a link request. Blogs that cover similar topics to your content are a natural target for link requests. Websites that have linked or shared similar content in the past are also good targets for link requests.
Reach out to them via email, but in most cases, there should also be a warm-up process where you first comment on their blogs, sometimes email them just to be helpful, or share and like their articles to get on their radar. This produces warmer reception from them because when you ask for a link, you are not complete stranger to them; they already noticed you before that.
Outreach works because you show yourself as real, friendly person and you have prove your friendliness with helping website owners in some way. This help can be providing content for their website, helping with a technical problem, helping with promotion, updating their content or anything else the website owner might need. This makes it a win-win situation for you and the webmaster.
Things like SEO, rankings, social presence and followers all fall in to place as a result of authentic outreach marketing. If foundations like quality content are already there, combining it with outreach is a powerful way to build links and increase (SEO) domain authority.
There are two different types of content used for SEO optimization. The first type of content, like explained earlier, is the “link worthy” content that is used to earn links towards your website. The second type of content is the actual content that will rank on Google.
Big websites with a lot of content pages rank for many keywords and are getting a lot of traffic. Many of the websites have been using blog for this purpose, but we’d like to present one less dynamic way of producing targeted content that can rank well.
The basics haven’t changed, although the threshold for the content quality has been increased. Just writing any random content will cause a website to earn a Google penalty. Few years ago when Google Panda update came out, Google penalized the websites that were producing thin or shallow content, only targeting keyword phrases, without any focus on users. In other words, such websites were concerned only about search engine traffic and optimized their websites only for keywords.
Optimizing only for search engines and not users is a bad practice.
This is why you should try to create realistic situations where it’s possible to add more content that will at the same time make sense for users. There needs to be a logical, realistic reason for that content and page to exist. A well-optimized website has a lot of content that is adapted for search engines, but is still high quality.
There are multiple ways to organize content for SEO purposes, however, as we explained earlier, how well they will rank also depends on the overall domain authority.
This is the reason why you shouldn’t just want to rank your website and its homepage, you should also want it to have specific content pages that will target and aim towards targeted keywords.
We are an experienced SEO marketing company focused on making websites more visible on the web. We are based in Grand Rapids, managing an European and an USA teams, making it possible to provide 24/7 marketing coverage for all of our clients. Established in 2007 as a web design company, we started working on internet marketing for our web design clients, but as we were very good at it, we specialized in internet marketing and SEO.
We handle keyword research, on-page improvements and use the best tools and methods in the industry to place our clients in front of their Internet competitors. Our internet marketing team provides our clients with the experience of strong improvements in search engine traffic, online branding and and revenue growth.
In our teams we have professional linguists as content managers and native US and UK expert writers to provide the highest quality of content for all of our clients and people we work with.
One of the advantages of working with us is that a client can always stop a SEO campaign. If the client is not satisfied with cooperation or for any other reason, they can stop working with us. We are basically always on “testing” because we always have to provide good service or our clients can leave at any moment.
For that reason, if the client doesn’t request it or specifically needs it, we don’t sign a contract that locks the client with our SEO campaign over a long period. We don’t use contracts to force cooperation, we only work if the client really wants to work with us.
Even in first days of working with us, you will be able to better judge how we work or in other words:
– how we communicate
– our level of attention to details
– level of understanding of this industry
In first few months we will be working on the following:
- In-depth analysis of your industry and SEO situation
2. Consulting – we will consult you how to direct overall internet strategy
3. On-Page SEO improvements
4. Creation of Linkbait guide
5. Prospecting of targets for link building outreach
How to measure SEO success
What does success mean in SEO and with this campaign? After months of an SEO campaign, there are a number of metrics that can be tracked and will provide information whether there was improvement or not.
1. Domain Authority (DA) – Moz.com is a set of tools that provides SEO metrics. We have mentioned Domain Authority many times in this document as it’s an unofficial standard for measuring the SEO authority of a website. DA is calculated by combining all of other link metrics (linking root domains, number of total links, MozRank, MozTrust, etc.) into a single score.
- Linking Root Domains (LRD) measured by moz.com or Referring Domains measured by majestic.com are the number of unique websites linking to your domain or page. This is one of the strongest SEO factors.
This tool has a long delay after a link goes live and before this tool index’s that link, however, this metric will be one of the most important metrics to track progress.
- Additional Link metricsTotal Links (moz.com)- This is the total number of all links to certain page including internal, external, followed and nofollowed links. Not a very reliable metric, but the increase of these numbers should be an additional metric for comparison to the starting position.
Moz Rank (moz.com) – represents a link popularity score. It reflects the importance of any given web page on the Internet. Pages earn MozRank by the number and quality of other pages that link to them. The higher the quality of the incoming links, the higher the MozRank.
Trust Flow (majestic.com) – is a number predicting how trustworthy a page is, based on the fact that trustworthy sites tend to link to trustworthy neighbors.
Citation Flow (majestic.com) – is a number predicting how influential an URL might be, based on how many sites link to it.
All these SEO metrics should show an increase if the SEO campaign is being implemented properly.
- Organic search results
Organic (non-paid) traffic numbers from Google Analytics – It’s not possible to give exact estimates how much your traffic will improve, but with improvement of Domain Authority, there should be a definitive increase of Google traffic. This can be an improvement of a 30, 50 or 100 % increase in organic traffic. The more you support the SEO cause, the better results you can expect.
- Search engine rankings
Search engine ranking refers to the position at which a particular site appears in the results of a search engine query. A site is said to have a high ranking when it appears at or near the top of the list of results.
Why we are better than other SEO companies?
It’s not one or two particular things that make us better, it’s a combination of things and the whole company culture. As you can see from our proposal, we are extremely transparent towards our clients and we are always willing to provide more information and clarification.
Great agencies don’t hide how they do it, they take pride in their process. SEO is based on content marketing these days, and the core of that, as we explained, is providing value. This is same thing that we do with our clients. We provide the value any way we can. We educate our clients, so they can understand the true value of what we are doing.
We are extremely committed to our clients. Our contribution is not always very tangible, but we are a “go to” source for clearing up any questions regarding online marketing and online presence. In the long run, having someone who influences and points you in a right direction adds up. This is how companies like Singlehop.com got to where they are now. They didn’t focus on 1-2 tactics, they accepted the whole approach and stuck to it for years.
We don’t approach this cooperation as working for our clients but working with our clients to achieve long-term goals.