I’ve learned over the last year how difficult it is to build a website that ranks and how difficult it is to get eyeballs on your content.
I’ve been operating this blog, TheKickassEntrepreneur, for just over a year, without any regard for the search engines. And that includes Google but also social media in general.
I figured that if I posted good quality content, my articles would get read, found by Google, and as a result, my site would be found.
I should have known better!
I operated a business for almost 30 years. Back then, I spent countless dollars and time on the various web entities and social media platforms.
At the time, and in my old business, that I’ve since sold, I spent time writing quality content. Fast forward to today, and I continue to write quality content. I write about things that I am passionate about, but up until a couple of months ago, I didn’t pay any attention whatsoever to search engine marketing.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that between May 2018, which is when I launched this site, and July 2019, I wasn’t receiving even 300 Google impressions per day.
Most of my traffic inside of that 14-month period was a result of my 7,000-strong email subscriber list.
I wondered why I wasn’t getting more Google search traffic, but frankly, I was too busy with other projects to pay much attention to the growth of this blog.
In June of this year, after my brief 3-month stint as interim president, I decided that I was going to make a concerted effort to build my blog traffic and monetize this blog, and that’s when I rediscovered search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO).
Advantages of Search Engine Marketing
No Google, no business.
What do I mean?
Unless you’re running a small corner store, if you cannot be found on Google, you’re not in business.
That’s the unfortunate reality of being a small business owner today.
Building a website is easy. Building a website that ranks for common keywords is a challenge.
As a result, a huge ecosystem has evolved to appease the search results, and that includes not only Google but also Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and all the other more popular social media and e-commerce platforms.
I’ve learned over the last year how difficult it is to build a website that ranks and how difficult it is to get eyeballs on your content.On July 25th of this year, I decided that I was going to rediscover the advantages of search engine marketing, and to start the process, I loaded Google Search Console onto my website.
For those not familiar with Google Search Console, it’s a Google tool that allows you to track your search impressions, penalties, inbound links, and clicks, along with many other handy search tools.
The day I loaded the tool, I had 400 search impressions.
As a point of clarification, 400 impressions doesn’t mean 400 visits to my website. That’s how many times my site appeared in Google search results. On that particular day, I had a 1.3% click-through rate (CTR), so 400 × 1.3% = 5 clicks from Google to my website.
I was able to extract this information from the Google Search Console.
Woo. Hoo. Five visits.
How Online Marketing Helps Business
As you can tell, 5 website visits from Google isn’t exactly going to do much for my readership.
If you’re running a small business, and you’re getting 5 visits to your site on a daily basis, that’s not going to bring in much business.
Let’s do some quick math.
400 search impressions mean 5 website visits.
If you can convert 5% of website visits (and that’s still high) to a paying customer, then that means that in one week, you’re going to have 1 paying customer (25 visits × 5%).
Those kinds of numbers aren’t going to help you break any sales records.
The sad truth is I suspect most small businesses aren’t even getting anywhere close to 400 search impressions on a daily basis.
I understand that most small businesses barely have a budget for advertising. Google search results and social media are free, so any clicks you receive from these engines should be considered a bonus.
Social media and SEM should be considered marketing assets.
Now, how do you monetize these marketing assets? That was my new challenge.
The Difference Between SEM and PPC – Search Engine Marketing and Pay Per Click
I had two choices with regard to increasing my web traffic: SEM and PPC. I could pay for my traffic, PPC,or receive free traffic from Google, Bing, and Yahoo, otherwise known as SEM. I chose to focus on SEO and not PPC. As a point of clarification, SEM is the search marketing, in general, and includes SEO.
So in late July, I signed up for a few free SEM tools. I played with these tools for a couple of weeks, and although they were decent, they weren’t really doing the job.
I decided to try SEM Rush. SEM Rush is, unfortunately, a paid tool. However, fortunately, I was able to get a free seven-day SEM Rush trial (and you can get one too by following this link. What I came to realize is how powerful the SEM Rush tool is, and with that knowledge in hand, I was able to extract some really good data that I quickly capitalized on.
Long-Tail Keyword and Domain Authority
I discovered the trick to getting found in search engines is through something called the “long-tail keyword.”
If you sell cars, for example, then there’s probably no chance that you’ll ever appear on the first page in Google search results. If you’re General Motors or Mercedes Benz, then sure, you’ll likely rank for the term “cars.”
Your small business likely doesn’t have the authority of GM or Mercedes.If it did, I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading this blog (and if you are, then welcome aboard).
Google, for example, has a DA of 100. GM has a DA of 78.
If two firms tried to compete for the same term, then the site with the higher DA will likely rank ahead of the site with the lower DA, although there are many other variables involved other than DA when Google decides how to rank sites in their SERP (search engines results page).
Your site’s DA is determined by a number of factors, the most important of which is the number of inbound links that your site has.
In late July, this site’s DA was 15, which isn’t terrible but isn’t very good either. So I had to get to work on two things:
- How to improve this site’s DA
- How to start ranking for more search terms
The first problem was somewhat solved by doing some guest posts, podcasts, and interviews and doing some syndicated blog content. By the time of writing of this blog in late October 2019, my site’s DA is now 34, which again, isn’t great but is certainly better than 15.
My next challenge is appearing in more Google search impressions in the SERP.
Remember the 400 impressions I cited earlier? And the 1.3% CTR?
Let’s say you can improve your impressions to 1,000, for example, and your CTR to 2%. That translates into 20 website visits.
The Power of Long Tail and Magic of SEM Rush
The long-tail keyword is the longer-term phrase that’s often used instead of, or in addition to, the primary search term.
For example, the word car, according to SEM Rush, has 1,500,000 search volume per month, with a keyword difficulty (KD) of 88.5, meaning it will be VERY difficult to rank for.
By applying a filter to the search criteria, I can see that there are terms with the word car that have much lower search volume but are easier to rank for.
Notice the term “hand car wash” has a search volume of 27,100 and a KD of 59%, which although better is still somewhat challenging to rank for.
I applied some additional filters, with some KD (keyword difficulty) maximum thresholds applied, to the term “hand car wash,” and “auto detailing orange county ca” has a volume of 20 and a KD of 45, meaning it will be significantly easier to rank for this term, but you won’t receive nearly as many visits.
A quick Google search and the result for the search term “auto detailing orange county ca” has, as the 3rd search result, the following:
Notice that the DA of the 3rd search result is 13, which is quite low.
So with the power of the right search tool, in my case I’m using SEM Rush, I was able to search for all sorts of long-tail keyword terms and increase my search impressions from 400 in late July to 3,431 by late October, an increase of 750% inside of three months. I was also able to improve my CTR from 1.3% to now approximately 1.8%.
Again, some quick back-of-the-napkin math, and you can see that my clicks from Google have gone from 5 per day to 61 per day, and as of the last few days, I’ve been averaging closer to 90.
Yes, the SEM Rush tool is somewhat expensive at $99 per month, but advertising is a lot more expensive than $1,200 per year, especially if the SEM Rush tool can generate 90 clicks a day.
Again, some back-of-the-napkin math, if I were running a business that sold goods (which I don’t)at a 5% conversion rate, with 90 site visits a day, I would average 5 sales per day instead of just 1.
As a business owner, if you know your gross margin, which you should, then you understand the value of every sale made.
Gross Margin Explained: If you sell a widget for $100, and the widget cost you $50, then your gross margin is $50.If you sell an additional 5 widgets a week as a result of your website, then the total gross margin to your business is $250 a week. The above is an example of course.
Once you know your gross margin and total revenue as a result of your SEM efforts, then you will better understand whether your efforts are paying off. In addition, and from a marketing perspective, once you understand your gross margin, you will be in a position to decide how much to spend on PPC (pay per click) and your other marketing assets. Net-net, you need to understand your SEM PPC equation.
The Problem with Long-Tail Search
I’ve found that, on many occasions, the writing, and titles, are somewhat awkward. For example, you will notice that the title of this blog post is How I Grew My Search Engine Impressions by 750% in 3 Months, and How Online Marketing Helps Business
The term “how online marketing helps business” was a long-tail search term with a monthly volume of 50 and a KD of 57. The term SEM PPC is another term that was included in this article, along with marketing assets and advantages of search engine marketing. I slipped all of these terms into this article so it has a better chance of ranking for some long-tail search terms, but again, these probably aren’t terms I would have used otherwise.
Unfortunately, the long-tail term has negatively impacted my writing style, not so much because the writing is awkward but because I’ve been able to naturally add long-tail search terms to my writing that I would otherwise not have added.
On one hand, if more people visit this site, then the more people I am helping and the more my message gets out. On the other, my writing has been skewed, to some extent, towards topics that I might not have written about, sometimes for the sake of getting more clicks to the site.
As an example, I recently wrote an article titled What Is CAP Rate and Pro Forma CAP Rate in Commercial Real Estate and How Can You Create Wealth With These Numbers?
This article is a rewrite from an article I wrote last year. The original article, although well written, wasn’t getting any website visits. So I did some SEM Rush keyword research and found some additional terms related to CAP rate that had a relatively low KD and a lower search volume. I added some phrases to the article, like pro forma CAP rate, added some extra words, and I republished the article.
What’s cool is that just one day after publishing this article, I was ranking for all sorts of terms that weren’t ranking just a few days earlier. For example, I am #3 in SERP for the longtail “pro forma cap rate.”
And the same thing for at least 5 other long-tail terms that are in that post.
How to Market Your Business in a Small Town
OK, so I had some fun with the above title but to prove a point.
I was initially going to title this heading “how to market your new small business,” but found that the KD in SEM Rush was easier for the above term “how to market your business in a small town,” so I decided to use that one instead.
At the end of the day, I’m going to address the question, and I am going to use a real-life scenario that I am working on.
My wife is starting her own small business selling personalized legacy books.
She’s prepared her product, and she’s done a fantastic job with her website. When she asked a couple of weeks ago what she needs to do in order to rank in SEO, she was not only frustrated but completely overwhelmed by the scope and complexity of how to appear in the search engine results.
She didn’t want to learn this rather complex industry, so her next logical question was, “How do other people start and market their business online given the time, scope, and complexity of all of the stuff that you’ve just explained?”
Truth is it’s difficult.
In early July, I started my SEO project and hired someone on Upwork.com to do the SEO website optimization that my site needed.
Ten hours later, the person advised me that he was done.
Figuring there had to be much more involved than hiring some person for 10 hours to do SEM work, I started researching myself as to what was required in order to rank in the SERP results (another long tail by the way).
The end result is that I spent hundreds of hours learning about SEO, signed up for a number of SEM tools, and am now fairly educated on how SEO works.
I intend to help my wife in the next few weeks with her website (when she’s ready), but in the meantime, if you’re a small business owner, you pretty much have no choice but to figure out the marketing.
That’s the reality of being in business today, and that’s whether you’re marketing your services online in a small town or around the world. You need to figure out SEM.
It’s important that you spend time learning about long-tail keywords, search, titles, inbound and outbound links, content writing, content marketing, and so much more because that’s how online marketing helps business.
You can hire someone, a small business marketing consultant, but to get this done right is expensive. A small business marketing consultant, at least someone who knows what they’re doing, is going to cost many thousands of dollars.
My Marketing Results 3 Months Later
So let’s come back full circle on my marketing efforts.
It’s been three months since I started my SEO exercise. My web impressions are now nearing 4,000. Considering I started at 400, I am at an almost 900% increase in the number of impressions, and yesterday I had my first 100 site visits from Google search.
My search impressions increased for many reasons, and not only because of the SEO work that I’ve done over the last two months. I increased my site speed, improved my writing, added more images to my content, increased the number of posts per week, and quite a few other things which I will review in future blog posts.
Marketing and web marketing are both extremely challenging yet so important to the success of a small business. You need to spend the time understanding marketing, and if you do, that could be the difference between being in business and thriving and, unfortunately, not. Take the former, spend the time, and figure this out, and that’s how online marketing helps business!
Incidentally, you can get a free seven-day trial for SEM Rush here (note: this is an affiliate link).
If you liked this article, you will also like this: 3 Top Reasons Why Startups Fail and How Not to Become a Victim
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Also, I published a book during the summer of 2018, “The Kickass Entrepreneur’s Guide to Investing, Three Simple Steps to Create Massive Wealth with Your Business’s Profits.” It was number 1 on Amazon in both the business and non-fiction sections. You can get a free copy here.