Barry Feldman is an author, search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, and founder of FeldmanCreative. With 25 years of experience with marketing, marketers and SMBs looking to improve their SEO results can probably learn a lot from him. He recently published a piece with Scripted about long-tail keywords and how to achieve success with them, but stopped by Scripted’s podcast to chat about SEO and some strategies you can use yourself.
Feldman laughs and acknowledges that Pulizzi is a pretty strong-looking guy, but would hope that Pulizzi’s class and nice demeanor would mean that he might not take a swing. Feldman isn’t so sure he wants to pick a winner, but says maybe he could win an arm wrestling match with Pulizzi. Scripted can always dream how a match might unfold at the next Content Marketing World.
Feldman’s book “SEO Simplified For Short Attention Spans” is geared for those who want to learn about SEO quickly, and also features chapters from industry leaders like Jayson DeMers and Andy Crestodina.
However, inspiration for the book actually came with a conference call with a healthcare organization client Feldman was consulting for. Feldman was attempting to explain SEO to the staff there when his marketing director cut Feldman off and let him know that the audience probably has no idea what he was talking about. She challenged him to explain SEO in 15 minutes the following week.
At first Feldman wanted to chuckle at that seemingly impossible task, but then realized it was an interesting challenge. Feldman wrote a blog post with that challenge in mind, and it was such a hit that he decided to write a book helping people learn SEO quickly and easily.
For SMBs out there, it’s important to know some basics of SEO. Feldman explains that keywords are basically the words you put into the search field anytime you perform a search. A search engine should then crawl through all the content on the web and provide you with results ranked based on relevance, quality, authority and other factors. Keywords are now usually four to six words long, which helps people be more specific when they search for what they’re looking for.
The Google Hummingbird algorithm is very good at understanding what people are looking for without matching for an exact phrase. Instead, search engines are looking for the “idea” of what your keyword means.
For example, the exact term, “Find me an affordable writer to write a blog post” might never be searched for, but the ideas in that sentence are common to many searches. The Hummingbird algorithm might look for “affordable blog writer” and synonyms of that phrase in order to help you find the content you need.
Now, in order to rank well on search engines you must both ensure the search crawlers know what your content is about and you must have really great content to begin with.
According to Feldman, if you don’t have high-quality and awesome content, you’re not likely to rank on the first page of any search results.
Feldman says short keyword like “guitar” is a high-volume search keyword, but you will probably never rank well for this short keyword unless you’re Fender. However, longer keywords like “12-string acoustic Takamine black guitar” are known as long-tail keywords. If someone is searching for a long-tail keyword term like that, it’s not only easier to rank well for that term, but it also means the person is more likely to make a purchase along their buyer’s journey.
In other words, SMBs want to focus on these long-tail keywords. The good news is that most searchers are looking for three-word keywords or more.
Feldman says it’s key for SMBs to find low-competition keywords that still have high search volume. That’s the sweet spot where you’ll have the right combination of ranking well while selling your product to a big enough audience.
Although SEO can be intimidating, Feldman says there are some basics that can help you achieve your goals as a marketer. To get started, read Crestodina’s guide to ranking better on Google. Then, ask yourself the following three questions:
Use Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner to find out. You’re looking to target long-tail keywords that have search volume in the range of the tens to hundreds of thousands.
If the search results are dominated by the biggest players in your niche like Wikipedia, Buzzfeed or whatever your niche is, you won’t rank well for that keyword. You can use a free Chrome extension, the MozBar, in order to understand your domain authority and the authority of your competitors. The MozBar offers you a score of 0 to 100, and if you’re up against competitors with authority at 50 or more, you probably shouldn’t bother trying to compete against them as an SMB. If you’re at 50 or below, you have a much better chance. You can also use Open Site Explorer to learn more about the domain authority of you and your competitors as well.
This is where you have control. Focus on producing quality and comprehensive content. Blog posts with 1,500-2,000 words vastly improve search engine results while short posts actually don’t perform as well. Feldman recommends reading what’s ranking well for a term and then write content that’s even better.
Feldman says his profession is writing, so he has to find time to write. Feldman says that one trick he uses is to write in his head, whether he’s taking a shower or just walking the dog. He lets ideas stew in his head because that way it’s much easier to fight writer’s block.
Feldman understands this struggle. In many cases, there is a price for his time, and he usually doesn’t take small one-time writing jobs or scenarios where he will be reaching a small audience. Sometimes a paycheck helps you prioritize your time.
Ultimately, Scripted is excited about future collaborations with Feldman and picking his mind for insights. Be sure to check out his website.