google search on mobile

Keyword Ranking Fluctuations: Why Does it Happen, What Can I Do About It?

google search on mobile

You have worked hard and finally rank first overall in SERPs for that specific keyword you’ve been targeting. 

Your site is gaining more traffic organically, and you are starting to see conversion rates increase. 

Now that you rank highly,  your authority increases, and you can start targeting more competitive keywords. 

One day you check your traffic in Google Analytics to look for more non-branded keyword opportunities and notice that your traffic has started to decrease. Panicking— you look for reasons why you are no longer the top rank in SERPs. 

You aren’t even on the first page anymore! 

What have you done to deserve this? Why are you no longer ranking in SERPs when you were just a few days ago? 

You didn’t change anything about the article, and the information is still all relevant, so what gives? 

This is a common problem many marketers face— keyword ranking fluctuation

What is Keyword Ranking Fluctuation? 

Keyword ranking fluctuation is when the SERPs change for a keyword you are targeting. Google, like most companies, wants to provide as much value to the end user as possible. To do this, they roll out new algorithm updates, altering the search engine results page to find out which articles are best for the reader. 

keyword rankings example

These tests can last from a few days to a few weeks. Most companies who see a change in their SERP position will return to their natural position once the tests are over. At the same time, some companies may see a more permanent change in their position. 

When companies start to see a change in their rank, they begin to panic and change their article that already ranks highly. Sometimes for the worst. 

Keyword ranking fluctuation is natural, temporary, and should be expected. However, the most important thing is not to panic and make an impulsive decision. 

So why did Google choose your article to move down in position, and when should you start to care or panic? 

What Causes Keyword Ranking Fluctuations?

Websites that recently started ranking for a keyword are much more susceptible to keyword ranking fluctuations. The longer you’ve ranked for a keyword, the less likely you will see a change in position. 

However, how long your content has been published and providing value to the end user is not the only cause of keyword ranking fluctuation. 

Google has a variety of factors they consider when they shake up the positions in SERPs. Here are a few of the most common causes of keyword ranking fluctuations. 

Google Algorithm Updates

It is very common for Google to change its algorithm. It’s Google. They are always innovating and trying to be better.  

Often, Google will roll out an algorithm update without telling anyone and will make the information public months later after testing and perfecting the changes.

Algorithm updates try to weed out content stuffed with keywords and is more focused on SEO tactics than actually providing value to the reader. 

It’s always important to stay updated with Google algorithm updates to gain a competitive edge. 

At Tuff, we always explain to clients that Google is going to rank the content that provides the most value to the reader the highest. Regardless of keywords and vanity metrics.

To keep it simple, write to provide value for the reader. Use natural language when talking about a subject, don’t stuff it with keywords. 

Issues with the Platform You Are Using

There are a ton of great SEO tools to analyze your traffic and ranking in SERPs. Unfortunately, although they can be extremely helpful and provide valuable insights, they aren’t always 100% accurate. 

Issues with the platform you are using are a common cause that companies see their keyword ranking fluctuate. 

SEMrush is one of the best tools on the market, but it uses third party data that may not be up to date. The metrics they provide aren’t completely accurate. Your traffic could be higher or lower than what their data says, and the same goes for your ranking positions for certain keywords. 

Don’t panic. Take the information with a grain of salt and give it some time to become more accurate before you make any changes. 

Loss of Important Backlinks

Backlinks are essential in your page ranking. If other websites are linking to your content, it shows that you’re a thought leader and have authority in the space. 

If you start to lose those backlinks because companies are linking to competing articles instead of yours, you may see your backlinks and ranking decrease. 

You can analyze your backlinks with a variety of SEO tools, like SEMrush, and ahrefs

backlink audit

Google Penalty

Google penalizes websites for a variety of red flags they find when crawling your pages. For example, you can be penalized for duplicate content, keyword stuffing, hidden links, or not being easily accessible for all users. Some of these are automatic, but others occur when Google pushes updates and recognizes something negative in your site.  

If you are penalized by Google for duplicated content, it’s time to worry. Plagiarism isn’t acceptable, and neither is unoriginal content. 

Your content should be original and be unique compared to the other search engine results. For example, if your content simply summarizes the top 3 articles for a keyword and doesn’t provide any additional insights or value, you will most likely see your position change.

Backend Site Issues

Common backend site issues that cause your rank to change include slow load times and other backend issues that are inconvenient for users.

Google wants the users to have a seamless experience. If your site has extremely slow load times, users are going to leave. And if users leave your site, that hurts your ranking. 

If you notice a decrease in site traffic, it could be a result of your page speed. A page speed report can show you how fast your site is. Testing competing websites is a great way to gauge where to stand on the spectrum. 

Pro tip: Images typically make up about 75% of total page weight when they aren’t optimized, resulting in longer load times. Optimizing your images is a great way to increase page speed and reduce load times. 

Your Site Has Been Hacked

Site security plays a large role in how Google views and ranks your website. If your website has been hacked and no longer is secure or safe for users to enter, Google will reduce your rank to protect the user. 

When Do You Need to Worry? 

Keyword ranking fluctuations are only temporary for most companies and shouldn’t raise too much concern. It’s common for these changes to stay in place for 3 to 4 weeks. So don’t panic right away and give Google time to adjust. 

If you still see that you are no longer ranking highly after a month or two, that should be a red flag, and changes should be made.

One of the best things to do is to look at competitor sites. 

  • Where are your competitors ranking?
  • How were they affected, if at all? 
  • What are some of the websites that moved up in rank?
  • What are they doing differently than you? 

Odds are, the keyword ranking fluctuations didn’t only affect you. Your competitors should see a change in traffic and rank as well. Unless, as mentioned earlier, they have been the top result for years. 

If you notice that you are the only one affected by these changes and it’s been longer than four weeks since the change, that should raise concern and you should take action. 

What Can You Do About Keyword Fluctuations?

The true answer (the answer that no marketers want to hear) is that all you can do is wait and see. You need to give Google time to gather information and adjust accordingly. But, again, most websites will return to their normal position after 3 to 4 weeks. 

If you don’t return to your normal position, there are a few things that you can do. 

  • Site audit 
  • Backlink audit 
  • Content remediation 
  • Competitor analysis 
  • Learn about the algorithm 

Site Audit

Performing an audit on your own site is an easy way to evaluate your website’s overall performance and search engine friendliness. This is where you learn about page speed, site security, and how user-friendly your website truly is.  

Backlink Audit

Backlink audits are similar to a site audit, but they strictly analyze the external sites that link to your content. Therefore, when performing a backlink audit, you should pay attention to the types of websites linking to your content, the quality of the backlinks, and how often websites link back to your website. 

Content Remediation

Content remediation is something that most websites should do regardless of how high they rank or if their rank has changed. Information changes as time passes, and Google wants to see that websites are keeping up with the times. Your content might be missing key questions that readers have and want answered. Adding new relevant content and improving existing content can help get you back to the top of SERPs. 

Competitor Analysis

A competitor analysis is a great way to discover what Google is looking for. If a competitor jumps above you in SERPs analyze their content. 

  • How does your content stack up to theirs? 
  • What are your competitors doing in their content that you aren’t? 
  • What questions are they asking and answering that you’re missing? 

Competitor analyses are easy to perform and can provide valuable insight into what changes you need to make. 

Learn about Google’s Algorithm Updates

Like we’ve said, Google is constantly innovating and updating its algorithm to provide the most value to the end user. Learning about the algorithm and staying ahead of the curve can give you a better understanding of what Google is looking for. 

This is a lot easier than most people think. Twitter is a great place to gain some valuable insights. Both @RustyBrick and @DannySullivan are great Twitter follows that tweet daily updates on how Google’s algorithm is changing and how it may affect your website. 

Overcoming Keyword Ranking Fluctuations 

With so many different factors affecting your keyword rank, it can be hard to find the specific fault that is causing you to lose traffic and conversions. Therefore, the first step in overcoming keyword ranking fluctuations is knowing where to start and implementing the right strategy to improve results and increase conversions. 

It’s important to remember that keyword ranking fluctuations are typically temporary and shouldn’t raise too much concern right away.

If you find that your SERP positions are falling too low, not returning to your average rank, and you aren’t reaching your goals as a result, our team at Tuff can help. We offer free growth strategy sessions and will analyze your current content strategy/performance to correct any keyword fluctuations you may be suffering from. 

Need help overcoming keyword ranking fluctuations? Let’s talk. 

 

The Difference Between On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

If you want to really increase your site’s traffic and make that traffic stick, then you’re looking at Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why? Because prioritizing SEO increases the chances of customers finding your website whenever they research for keywords related to your products or services. According to databox, 70% of marketers find SEO more effective at driving sales. And if that wasn’t enough, compared to other tactics like Pay Per Click (PPC), SEO is cheaper.

So how come every growing business isn’t investing in SEO? Well, like so many twenty-something relationship statuses—it’s complicated. 

At Tuff, we analyze our clients’ websites from home page to blog and from site speed tags to 404 redirects to discover what SEO tactics will positively impact their growth. But did only some of that make sense? Well, probably because we threw some technical SEO jargon in there. That’s right! There are different types of SEO, and they all help optimize a site for search, but they do it differently.

So, to help clear up any confusion, we’ll walk you through the difference between on-page, off-page, and technical SEO and how each helps your growth marketing strategies. 

What is on-page SEO?

On-page or on-site SEO involves optimizing specific elements of your website’s pages, such as content and HTML source codes. On-page optimizations help search engines, like Google and Bing (if you’re into that, we do not judge), interpret page content to understand what it’s about. When the search engines understand the purpose of your page, they can turn around and help visitors searching for the goods or services you sell to find you. 

But for on-page SEO to be effective, it’s now what you tell search engines but how you tell them. And of those ways is through HTML tags. So to understand how on-page SEO works, you need to know a bit about HTML—the basic coding language that websites use.

The source code of most web pages filled with tags that look like this:

<title> What is HTML?</title>

So, if I had that bit of code on the Tuff site, you would see “What is HTML?” in the title bar of your browser. If you were to find this page on a search engine (hopefully in the first position), “What is HTML?” would be the name of the link you’d click.

Search engines use these tags to understand what a web page is about. One method of increasing on-page SEO is to optimize these tags (like using keywords—more on that in a sec) to make the search engines display your page for relevant search queries. If you do it correctly and don’t abuse it by stuffing keywords, you should see some positive organic results. However, nothing in SEO is that easy. 

Targeted keywords

In the good ol’days of SEO, you could have articles filled with search terms for your industry. So if you were a dog food company, most of your pages would be jam-packed with search terms like “best dog food,” “top-rated dog food,” “number one dog food,” etc. This was great for search engines but terrible for people that had to read sentences like “Have you asked yourself, ‘Is there dog food near me?” Now, spamming keywords into your content will not get you rewarded by Google but penalized because you aren’t providing users valuable information but devaluing your site’s expertise, authority, and trust (E.A.T.). 

On-page SEO is about utilizing these targeted keywords to help your site rank higher. But it’s not just going into SEMRush picking the top-ranking keywords. There is a technique to it. First, you want to perform a SEO competitive analysis where you determine the top keywords for your industry and how your competitors rank for these as well. Plus, you want to look for relevant keywords but have low competition. This will help your site build out its expertise and authority, which should have Google start ranking your content higher in the SERPs if your content is deemed valuable to the end-user. So tl;dr:

  • Identify your competitors and compare your keywords
  • Determine how the customers you want search for your goods or services.
  • Research successful pieces of content in your space and determine how they utilized keyword phrases
  • Use online SEO tools like SEMRush to look for keyword opportunities

So that’s it for on-page SEO, right? Well, actually, there’s more!

Title optimization

If you recall, way up there, we mentioned how essential tags were, especially title tags? Well, there is a bit more to it. Every piece of content you produce should have a compelling title that informs what the article should be about and contain the primary keyword you want to rank for. Search engines and users don’t have a lot of time, so if you can tell them what they can expect from the web page in the most concise way possible, you’ll be rewarded.

Title and header tags are also a great way to add your primary and secondary keywords. So if you were writing a piece on say, different types of SEO, your structure would look like this:

H1: The Difference Between On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

H2: What is On-Page SEO?

H2: What is Off-Page SEO?

H2: What is Technical SEO?

Well, you get the point. Search engines can crawl the page title and headings to help them determine what the content is about, and for a user, it is an excellent way for them to skim the content and get to the answer they want. All that engagement will go a long way into boosting your visitor site time and click-through rate, which will, in turn, increase your organic growth. 

Optimized Content

You want to make sure you use those keywords in your content you worked so hard to discover and ensure that your content talks about the subject you’re telling search engines what the content is about. It’s not enough to just sprinkle keywords throughout the content. On-page SEO will add depth and breadth on a subject for both search engines and your visitors. Plus, you want to use those keywords as naturally as possible. 

Remember our “dog food near me” example? Yeah, that type of content will be penalized because you’re not telling the search engines or your visitors how to find dog food closest to the user’s location. However, search engines, like Google, are getting better at determining user intent, which means content that answers a user’s question with a wealth of information will be rewarded by ranking higher in the SERPs. 

SEO-friendly URL

This one often gets overlooked, but the title should be a simplified summary of what your page is about. It may be tempting to just go with an auto-generated URL, like the ones Shopify and WordPress suggest based on your content, but take a minute to think about it. If you can remove any filler words and ensure that your title contains your primary keywords, you’ll have a greater opportunity to rank higher in the SERPs. So in short, make sure you:

  • Exclude words that don’t add significance to the URL 
  • Add relevant keywords
  • Make it easily readable
  • Use hyphens and underscores
  • Needs to contain your single domain and subdomain
  • Match URLs with your content’s titles as closely as possible

In the end, your URL will look something like this:

https://tuffgrowth.com/seo-competitive-analysis/

Optimized Meta Elements

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t end with a good title tag. In fact, the meta elements can have a more significant impact on your organic growth than the URL. So, again, don’t just go with the auto-generated meta elements from a CMS platform. As Google likes to tell us, you know your content best. So you take a moment to craft a meta title and meta description that stands out from your competitors and utilizes those valuable keywords. 

Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of your title and 155 characters of your meta description. This includes spaces, so you don’t have a lot of room to work with. Let’s drag out our dog food example again. For a page on our made-up Pawsome Dog Food company, we want to tell both the search engines and the reader what it’s about while also encouraging them to click. So it should look something like this:

example of an updated meta description

Optimizing Images

Are images important for on-page SEO? They sure seem to be. According to an article in HubSpot, articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images. But just like the keywords, the images have to be relevant to the content, and you have to do some on-page optimization to make the images work a little harder for you. This means titling the images using your keywords if possible and adding Alt-text that uses your keywords so the search engines can better categorize the content. 

That was a lot, and there are tons of tweaks and on-page SEO strategies you can implement to make your growth strategy successful.  But now we need to discuss off-page and technical SEO, and how they can also be an important part of your company’s organic growth. 

What is off-page SEO?

So you know what on-page SEO is, but what about everything that happens outside your site? Enter off-page SEO. Typically, Off-page SEO also includes anything that refers back to your site, such as social media, podcast, leaving comments on a guest blog, or anything that happens off your site that influences your site’s authority. Off-page SEO tactics generally fall under the Social Communications Manager or Social Ads Strategist role at your company. 

The most common off-page SEO tactic is link building. In the earlier days of search engines, SEO strategies determined if a page outside of your website linked back to your site, creating a backlink, that it was a signal of the popularity of your content. The more backlinks you had, the higher you would rank. In addition, you got bonus points if the sites linking back to you were also popular. So there was a mad dash of websites linking to each other as much as possible. 

But like that judgemental principle in your middle school, Google judges your site by the company you keep. So if you have too many backlinks that are considered “toxic,” meaning they have a low domain authority or are from just terribly spammy sites, a backlink from these types of sites could actually hurt your on-page SEO. This means you have to be careful who you request a backlink from. 

A big part of off-page SEO is curating your backlinks. Often, you can’t control who links back to your site. In this instance you have to disavow these toxic backlinks. Plus, you could have sites linking to pages that no longer exist on your site. This would require a link reclamation campaign. Off-page SEO is labor intensive, so a lot of companies choose not to do it, and focus on SEO tactics, like on-page and technical, that are more in their control. However, when done right, off-page SEO can have a huge impact on your rankings. 

What is Technical SEO?

Finally! The unsung hero of search optimization. Talk to a technical SEO for a few minutes, and you will most likely not understand a word they said, but we guarantee what they were telling you goes a long way to the health of your site. 

Technical SEO is a catch-all term for optimization improvements that are not on-or off-page. An SEO skilled in this will perform technical SEO optimizations on your site to make sure that you have a solid foundation for all your on-page and off-page SEO tactics. Their behind-the-scenes work can do wonders on your site’s performance and your organic growth. This is because Google not only rewards good content but it also regards a good user experience. If your site is too slow, too hard to crawl, or you have too many dead links, all the great content in the world won’t get you to rank high in the SERPs.

At Tuff, we look into a client’s site health before we make any changes. We know that if the site’s foundation is bad, then all our work for the client won’t help them grow an inch. So technical SEO is just as important as any other SEO tactics, if not more important. So what does technical SEO include? This isn’t the definitive list, but it’s some of the heavy-hitting a technical SEO will perform on a site.

Site Architecture

We mentioned how vital a good foundation was, and a technical SEO can inspect your site and ensure everything is working and linking as it is supposed to be. 

Your site’s architecture makes it easy for search engines and users to find you. With over a trillion pages on the internet, you can see what is important. The search engines’ crawlers need to be able to thoroughly and easily navigate your entire site. A website with an ideal architecture helps crawlers locate anything they’re looking for across all of your pages.

Another reason technical SEO can be so effective is that it flushes out any internal linking issues you may have. Internal linking to high-priority pages gives them greater authority (Remember that whole E.A.T. thing?) These high-priority pages are recognized by Google and receive a higher ranking, which is key for sites like your homepage.

It’s not just for search engines. A good site architecture also helps people find what they need more quickly and keeps them from bouncing too soon. Keeping customers happy lowers your bounce-back rate, which helps your organic rankings. 

Sitemaps

Your site map or XML sitemap is really just what it sounds like. It’s a roadmap for search engines to explore your site. Just like any good map, an XML sitemap will highlight the most critical areas of your sites, like landmarks, so the crawlers know what to check out first. 

xml sitemap example

This is key for extensive sites where the crawlers may not know where to begin; you want to make sure that the search engines prioritize your most important pages, such as landing pages before your crawl budget is used up.

Mobile-first Optimization

With Google prioritizing mobile search over desktop, your site must be mobile-friendly. Technical SEO ensures your site not only looks great but functions as it should when someone accesses it from their phone or tablet. 

If that doesn’t seem too important, consider that mobile search accounted for 52.1% compared to desktop searches of 44.2%. So yeah, how your site functions on mobile is pretty essential.

Duplicate Content

Some things are so important you feel the need to say them multiple times, but too much and Google will ding your rankings. Technical SEO will look into what content or pages have the same message or even the exact same content and devise a plan on what to keep and what to throw out. 

A technical SEO will also look into thin content or what pages are not providing much value from a search standpoint. Remember, Google will penalize you if you throw up a page that offers no value. Google doesn’t like it when you waste its or a user’s time. For large enterprise sites, chances are there are a lot of duplicate or thin pages, and a technical SEO can ferret these issues out to ensure your site is healthy. 

Site Speed

Do you hate sitting in traffic? So does Google, and if your site loads too slow, more than two seconds, then Google is going to have something to say about it. But it’s not just search engines that have a problem with slow site speeds. 

website site speed

Most people will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. But, unfortunately, all this clicking-and-bouncing negatively affects your site rankings. There could be too many redirects, line breaks in your code, Javascript issues, image optimization issues, and more. So having a technical SEO that can determine why your page is loading too slowly can save your business. 

Schema Markup

Schema markup or structured data is a type of code that communicates to search engines how to follow your website and what the data on your site means. Rember, Google isn’t patient, it has a lot to do, so good communication with search engines is key to getting you to rank higher. 

Technical SEO also looks at how your site performs internationally, hreflang tags, and a host of their back-end issues such as canonicals robot text, core web vitals, and assesses how any Google update may affect your site’s overall health.

What kind of SEO is best for your site?

Easy and lazy answer. All of them, and this is true. A holistic SEO strategy will utilize all the strategies that affect your organic growth channels. However, sometimes it’s not realistic to focus on all three. You may not have the expertise or the people to make a serious SEO- impact to grow your site’s organic channels. 

This is where a growth marketing agency like Tuff comes in. We’ll do a deep dive on your site and determine which SEO tactics will have the biggest impact on your business. We’ll determine if on-page, off-page, or technical SEO is going to improve your conversions and website rankings and then come up with a plan and help you execute. Each business model is different, so there is not a one-size fits all approach. If there was, SEO would be easy. However, with a partner like Tuff on your team, on-page, off-page, and technical SEO are a whole lot easier.

If you want to know more about how on-page, off-page, and technical SEO  can be a part of your growth marketing strategies, hit us up. We’d be happy to walk you through our game plan on how we can attract the right traffic to help make your business successful. 

content strategy template

How to Build a Quarterly Content Marketing Strategy (Using Tuff’s as an Example)

Typing on google search.

As a content marketer, you have one primary goal: to create content that converts viewers into life-long customers. It sounds simple, but it is far from easy, especially when you need to create consistent, quality content that regularly drops and is within budget. Like any huge task, it’s best to break it up into chunks that are more easily managed and still adhere to your long-term goals. This is why all successful content marketing starts with a solid content marketing strategy and why many content marketers struggle—because they don’t have one. 

If you’re a content growth marketer that falls into the latter category, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute, only 43% of respondents had a documented content marketing strategy, and 21% had none at all. How did so many professional content growth marketers fail to solidify a plan? If their experience is anything like mine, chances are they felt the pressure to meet deadlines, satisfy the client’s request, or thought that tactics that worked before would keep generating similar results.

But let’s all take a deep breath together. The more you put in on the back end, the easier your job will be on the front end, and more importantly, generate the results you and your client need. 

At Tuff, we have a lot of experience creating quarterly content marketing plans that increase organic traffic for our clients. And since we practice what we preach, we do it for ourselves. So, let’s use Tuff’s quarterly content marketing plan as an example. This article will break down step-by-step how we form a strategy, create a quarterly content plan, and execute it.

What is a quarterly content marketing plan?

It’s just as it sounds. It is a 3-month plan to create topics that level up to your overall strategy. Why three months? Because anything more might be a waste of your time and effort. It didn’t take us long to go from “Oh, this COVID-19 thing should be only two weeks long” to us still dealing with it more than a year later. Plus, planning only three months out means you aren’t married to anything mentally. It is a lot easier to stick a fork in four topics than 12. In short, Tuff plans three months out because it lends us enough time to create an editorial calendar without scrambling, and it provides plenty of slack for us to quickly adjust our plan so we don’t miss out on timely events and topics.

Step One: Research what people are searching

Like any good plan, it all begins with research. At Tuff, we use content marketing to generate organic growth for our clients and ourselves, so research starts with keywords. And yes, keywords are still important, even if how they are used has changed. Let’s start with what we did for our website. We used our good friend, SEMrush, and their Keyword Magic Tool to determine what terms surrounded our industry—growth marketing. And, well, we got a lot of results back. 

keyword analysis spreadsheet

This is just a snapshot of the 14,000+ semantically related keywords.

Step 2: Put your keywords into focus

So, we had our 14,000 keywords, and we are good to go, right? Nope. A content strategy that goes after 14,000 keywords isn’t a strategy, and if so, it’s a really bad one. We had some refining to do. 

As part of our SEO analysis, we removed anything that didn’t make sense to go after. “Market growth” with 1,300 searches per month and “stock market growth by the president “with 590 searches had some decent volume, but that isn’t what we are really about. So, we removed those right away. Same for any similar terms like “stock market growth,” “free market economies,” and “TD money market.” 

Next, we sorted our list by keyword difficulty. The higher the percentage, the harder it is to get your content to rank for these terms. We started looking for keywords that were below 70%. Mind you, 70% is still challenging, but not impossible, especially with the right content surrounding those keywords. 

Then, we went through our sorted list and focused on the search terms that we wanted to rank. That doesn’t mean the ones with the most search volume, but the search terms that we knew we could build expert, authoritative content around to build trust and attract the clients that are a great fit for our agency. This is basically what we do for retailers, eCommerce sites, B2B companies, etc., when we create buyer personas which are a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. This gave us a list of around 1,400, so making progress. But we weren’t done.

Remember, this is how to create a quarterly content marketing plan, so we need to break this list down even more. We wanted to look at what we were already rankings previously and build upon that success. 

If we are already ranking, why do we need to build more content? Because the search engines are constantly reevaluating rankings, and if you have content that is too dated, too brief, and/or not enough of it, the search engine algorithms will drop your rankings. As growth marketers well know, this is a “what have you done for me recently” type of industry, and the search engines have that mentality as well. 

focus keyword list

Okay, so now we have a very focused list to start building our quarterly content plan. The keywords are industry-specific, have low competition, and (bonus!) we have some momentum to build off. Now to start creating topics in our quarterly content marketing plan to help drive organic growth. 

Step 3: Content topic research (yup, more research)

Now that we have our target keywords, our client (or buyer) personas, we can start researching the type of content we need to create to rank and attract the clients we want. We can go back to SEMrush and use their SEO Content template feature to help get an idea of what type of content is ranking for these keywords. Let’s look at “content strategy agency” and see what we can dig up: 

competitor research on keywords

We can see that we aren’t the only ones going after this keyword. There is no surprise there, but what we can also see is the content that is ranking for these keywords. Let’s look at the first result: 

competitor research

This article is primarily an aggregated list of “content marketing agencies,” so this isn’t something we want to duplicate or improve. However, we can learn how they used their primary keyword and semantically related keywords in their meta title and meta descriptions to rank high in the SERPs. What this article is missing is terms around a content marketing agency, such as “What is a content marketing agency and how can it help your brand?”, “what does a content marketing agency do?” and “Do I need a content marketing agency?” If we create content that answers questions that prospective clients are searching for, this is not only going to help us rank but also convert. 

We will go through this process for each of our targeted keywords and create topics and content that will focus on these search terms, user intent, and answer PAAs. The main thing to keep in mind is what content will be helpful for the reader because that is what the search engines are asking. So, what did we come up with? Well, as you can guess, something around a content marketing strategy

 

article on the tuff blog about content

This title focuses on our primary keyword and will answer questions on what clients can expect from a content strategy from Tuff. But we showed you just a part of the end result. How did we get here? Glad you asked. 

Step 4: Creating a Content Calendar

We’ve done our research, more research, and focused on what we are going after. So, before we write a single word, we have to organize it all. This is where your content calendar comes in. 

If you have enough resources, you can tackle multiple topics simultaneously. Still, if your resources are limited, you want to target your most important keywords based on traffic, as these are typically going to yield you the best results. This strategy is sound when you have good domain authority, but if you are new to the game, well, you need to pick your battles. This means looking at your focused keyword list and going after low-hanging fruit. In other words, you want to target keywords where you can make substantial gains without having to deal with a lot of competition.

Why? Because the more keywords you start ranking highly for, the more the search engines will respect your expertise, authority, and trust (E.A.T.). As you build upon your domain authority, it will be a lot easier to rank for more competitive search terms. At Tuff, we decided to take a divide and conquer approach.

Each month we would focus on one keyword and produce 4-6 pieces surrounding these. We also wanted to create a holistic approach because our strategies are never siloed. It’s important to make sure your content calendar is still grounded in your overall strategy. For Tuff, our is to rank number 1 for “growth marketing agency,” so no matter what we create, it should ladder up to this. Luckily, content marketing is a big part of how we help our clients grow, so it’s a natural fit for us to tie in “content strategy agency” topics into “growth marketing agency.” But let’s back to the content calendar.

We knew that we wanted to build upon our expertise in content marketing, and “content strategy agency” had decent search value (170 per month) and low keyword difficulty (49%). Let’s take a look at what Month 1 looks like:

content strategy template

All of these topics tie into what a “content strategy agency” can do. We took our advice and created content that provided expertise, authority, and, hopefully, trust. We also perform keyword research, competitor analysis, and content design for each topic so the content can be easily digested. This means adding enough images with optimized file names and alt text and structuring it, so there are no giant blocks of text. For longer posts, we also make sure to create internal jump links. It’s not enough to get your content to rank. You also want to make certain people actually read it because a high bounce rate will most definitely affect your SEO. Plus, we strive to create content that people want to share.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat

For months two and three, we focused on “eCommerce agency” and “startup marketing agency,” respectively, going through a similar process that we did for month 1. Remember, we are not creating siloed content. Each of these leads up to our primary focus, “growth marketing.” And if we planned this right (which we did), we should crosslink these posts to create a content web easily. Having a good cross linking strategy ensures that your readers can find more great information without searching all over your site (or your competitors), and it increases time on site, which we know is good for our organic growth.

Step 6: Set your cadence

Once you have your calendar organized and content briefs for each topic, you can begin writing. But you need to think about your cadence. Even if you have the resources to jam all of it out in a week, you don’t want to upload it all at the same time. It’s best to create a steady drip so that both Google and your readers don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of content, and it gives them reasons to keep coming back. A steady drip also helps you build true, longer-lasting organic growth. If you upload them all at once, you may get a nice artificial boost, but it will fade as fast. Several studies show you the best time to publish content, but you also want to consider the type of content you are posting, and your competitors probably read these same studies. 

Whichever you decide, keep it consistent. 

What else do I need to know about creating a quarterly content marketing plan?

Organic growth is a long-term play. There are no quick fixes. Your content marketing efforts could take as long as 90 days to show positive results, but these results are sticky. Once you start ranking for specific terms, you should continue to move up in those rankings, that is, until someone else does it better than you. However, if you’ve produced good quality content, you don’t need to rewrite it every few months. You can update and expand on it using a remediation strategy. But that’s a topic for another post.

We’ve gone over quite a bit, but if you still have questions or you think this is something best left to the experts, then get in touch. We have created quarterly content plans for many of our clients, and one thing about going with a content strategy agency like Tuff, is that we have been there done that. You can lean into our expertise and grow your business the right way.  

We’ve gone over quite a bit, but if you still have questions or you think this is something best left to the experts, then get in touch. We have created quarterly content plans for many of our clients, and one thing about going with a content strategy agency like Tuff, is that we have been there done that. You can lean into our expertise and grow your business the right way.  

google search console

Checking Out The Competition: How To Do An SEO Competitor Analysis

google search console

So you took a great, original idea and turned it into an incredible product. Your startup or scaleup is starting to gain traction and attract customers – but you’re noticing there’s more competition out there than you thought. 

Maybe there’s a big conglomerate with a branch that sells a related product. Or you were at the forefront of a trend, but similar businesses are now popping up everywhere. Sounds like it’s time for you to do a competitor analysis. Here’s how.

What is a competitor analysis?

A competitor analysis is a process that involves looking at your competition’s marketing strategies, products, and services. It goes beyond a quick browse of your competitors’ websites and is a critical, thorough process that takes an in-depth look at every facet of their business.

Competitor analysis should be done quarterly, or more frequently if you’re new to the market. But this is just one tool in your toolbox. Always monitor your market and industry in general, and if you see a shift, it’s time to dive into a full competitor analysis. Make sure you’re gathering customer feedback as well – just because a competitor is doing something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right strategy. 

Why is a competitor analysis critical?

You probably already know you should be doing competitor analysis. But you may not realize the massive benefits it can bring your business.

  • Differentiate your product. You know you’re unique – but does your messaging and brand identity capture that? If your product looks the same and your marketing sounds the same, why will customers choose you? Competitor analysis allows you to refine your value proposition.
  • Stay relevant. Competitor analysis allows you to evaluate trends in your industry and determine how you can leverage them to grow your business and stay ahead of opportunities. You’ll also uncover your competitors’ strengths so you can learn how to replicate them.
  • Grow your website’s traffic. SEO analysis is a vital part of the puzzle. See what’s working for both the paid and organic strategies of your competitors, then do it better. 
  • Gain a competitive edge. Understanding your competitors’ tactics – and weaknesses – allows you to improve on them. You’ll also identify gaps in their marketing strategies and target audiences that will allow you to use new and different methods and get better results.

What tools do I need to perform a competitor analysis?

You could just jump on the computer, type in your competitors’ websites, and use your analytical eye to see what they’re doing. But you’ll get a lot more useful information when use some of these competitor analysis tools:

  • SEMrush uses comprehensive data to help you explore market and audience trends, do keyword gap analysis, and uncover competitors’ link-building strategies.
  • Ahrefs has similar tools to SEMrush to help you do SEO competitive analysis.
  • SimilarWeb provides accurate and thorough website analytics around traffic, demographics, engagement and more.
  • SpyOnWeb lets you see if a website is operated by a competitor. 
  • GoogleAlerts gives you updates on certain search terms and preferences you set, helping you track your competitor and industry.
  • Buzzsumo is a great tool for competitive content analysis. See what’s working, who’s sharing, and what’s trending for content. 

You don’t necessarily need paid tools to do a competitor analysis, but it really helps. Of course, you’ll also need the expertise to use them. That’s where a growth marketing agency like Tuff can really help.

How to do a competitor analysis

Before you can do a competitor analysis, you need to know who your competitors are. Check out our article on competitor research to learn how to identify your market competitors. Once you have that list, use the tools we talked about above – and your own critical thinking – to look at the following areas and ask yourself, “How can I do this better than them?”

Website Traffic

Analyzing the traffic going to your competitors’ pages tells you a lot about what’s working and what isn’t. Take a deeper dive into:

  • Traffic by channel: Are their visitors coming from display, paid search, organic search, social, or something else?
  • Traffic by device: Do they get the most traffic from desktop, phone, or tablet?
  • Traffic by geography: Does your competitor appeal to an audience from a specific part of the country or world?

Engagement

If your audience gets to the page and then bounces, were they ever really there? Traffic is important, but audience engagement tells you whether a competitor’s marketing strategy is actually working. Look at:

  • Bounce rate: This is the number of visitors that leave the site after only viewing one page. A low bounce rate indicates content marketing that’s doing its job well.  
  • Conversion rate: How many visitors complete a desired action, like making a purchase, downloading a piece of content, or submitting a form? Conversion is the ultimate goal of growth marketing.
  • Demographics: Who is your competitors’ most engaged audience? What is their age, gender, and income? What are they doing right to engage this audience?

Ad Strategy

The laser-focused targeting abilities and relatively low cost of PPC advertising mean that your competitors are likely using this channel. Ask yourself: 

  • Are they running ads? What are they bidding on? 
  • What CTAs are they using to push people to purchase?
  • What searches do they show up for?

User Experience

Analyzing user experience requires your own critical thinking skills more than the other categories. Browse your competitors’ websites, clicking on crosslinks, menus, CTAs and more. Check out:

  • Website layout: Does it move you easily through the discovery and purchasing phases? Was information easy to find? What are their CTAs? 
  • Aesthetics: What color scheme are they using? Is text easy to read and organized? What images do they use (lifestyle, product, stock images, etc.)?
  • Mobile optimization: Use the “Inspect” feature on Chrome to see if the website is mobile optimized. Right-click anywhere on the page and go to “Inspect.” In the top left of the sidebar, click the icon of the phone and computer screen to toggle on the mobile view. How does it look?

For each of the above categories, ask yourself: How can I make this better on my website? After all, competitor analysis is all about knowing what your competition is doing so you can do it better.

Your competition is giving you a lot of information. You just have to take time to understand it. Performing a competitor analysis will give you a solid foundation for your business growth and a way to plan future strategies. Yes, it’s that important – but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Tuff to discover all the ways we can help you get ahead.

man looking at magnifier

How to Do a Keyword Gap Analysis

man looking at magnifier

There are no ties in SEO.

In order for one company to be number one, there also have to be losers. How can you make sure you’re on the right side of this equation? It’s all about strategy.

If you’ve identified your competition, you may be wondering:

  • What’s the next step?
  • Why are my competitors continually outranking me?

It’s likely time for you to do a keyword gap analysis.

What is a keyword gap analysis?

A keyword gap analysis is a method for choosing the best keywords for your organic SEO strategy. In a keyword gap analysis, you’ll compare yourself to your competitors to determine where they are outperforming you, and how you can catch up. Your keyword “gaps” are areas in which you have a realistic ability to overtake your competitors and outrank them. In short, it’s a way to reveal keyword opportunities you’re missing out on. 

A keyword gap analysis is an essential part of an SEO competitive analysis. You’ll identify keywords that your competitors rank for, but you don’t. You’ll also identify keywords that you have a low ranking for, for example positions 5 to 15. From there, you can create a strategy to “boost” low rankings and steal keywords from your competitors.

Why is keyword gap analysis important?

The ultimate goal of any holistic SEO content strategy is to drive traffic to your site. But you don’t want just any traffic. You want high-value, high-intent website visitors whose problems you can solve. That’s just what you get when you use a keyword gap analysis to reveal areas of opportunity where you either don’t have content or where you can improve existing content. 

Keyword gap analysis is vital to creating quality content that will capture the right audience at the right time. At Tuff, we use PPC and organic search together, building a strategy in which they complement each other, help drive growth on more competitive keywords, improve rankings and traffic, and increase share of voice. That translates into more traffic – and more revenue.

How to do a keyword gap analysis

You don’t need to be an SEO master to do a keyword gap analysis, but having a professional on your side is always helpful when it comes to interpreting results and creating a list of keywords. Here’s how we do it at Tuff.

Pick your tools

You’re going to need at least one SEO tool in order to perform a keyword gap analysis. The options here are similar to the tools you can use for on-page SEO analysis. We use Semrush, which does have a free version available with a limited amount of queries allowed. (That’s another benefit of hiring an agency – we have the tools and the expertise to use them!)

keyword gap analysis using SEMRush

Get your keyword list

Open up your tool and enter your website domain. Then enter your main competitors and click “Compare.” The tool will show you a list of keywords that your competitors rank for, as well as where you appear in the SERPs for those same words. You can sort by organic, paid, or PLA, and Semrush will also show you keyword volume, difficulty, competitive density, and CPC among other metrics. For in-depth analysis, download the file as a CSV report so you can sort and search more easily.

Interpret your results

Now you need to determine where you can get the most value from your keywords. Your keyword tool will do some of the work for you. Semrush, for example, has a section showing “Top Opportunities” for keywords that your site is missing as well as weak keywords—where you have a ranking but it is lower than all of your competitors’ rankings. To discover opportunities yourself, look for keywords that are:

  • Highly relevant to your business and your website
  • Regularly searched for by your target audience
  • Not overly competitive, but still high-value
  • Easily filled using existing content or easy to create new content for

We export each keyword gap analysis into a spreadsheet to better sort, analyze, and filter the data. It looks something like this with four core tabs: Shared, Missing, Weak, and Strong.

keyword gap analysis spreadsheet

Try a page-level analysis

You already know a few different areas where you and a competitor have similar articles. You want to determine what they’re doing right and replicate it. Doing a keyword gap analysis at the page level instead of the domain level is helpful here. You can enter the exact URL of your competitor and compare it to your own page to see what you may be missing. Then add those keywords to your page – or create an entirely new page – and start stealing competitors’ traffic.

Put it into action

How do you know whether to refresh an existing page or create a new one? What types of content will most effectively attract customers from your competitors? This is where SEO becomes not on a science, but an art. To determine your plan of action, analyze the top content that is already ranking for that keyword and look for things like:

  • Content type (video, blog, gallery, etc.)
  • Content length and organization
  • Headers and keywords used

Do you have content that already fulfills these criteria? You can update it to use the new keywords. If you don’t, you’ll want to create something new. 

Organic growth is crucial to the overall growth of your business, but it isn’t always straightforward. Tuff can help you with every step of the process, from performing a keyword gap analysis and determining the best course of action to creating content that outranks the competition. Contact us today to get started.

How To Do an on-Page SEO Analysis

a man sitting at a clean white desk researching on-page seo

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Content is king.” Bill Gates said it in a 1996 essay, and it’s been true ever since. So it’s likely that you’ve got content. Lots of content! But is anyone seeing it? Is it helping to drive growth for your business?

An effective growth marketing strategy means more than throwing together a blog where you write about topics that you’re familiar with or that you find interesting. To create content that truly connects with your audience – and that drives conversions – you need to think about on-page SEO analysis.

What is on-page SEO?

SEO is commonly split up into three types: on-page, technical, and off-page. On-page SEO is anything that your visitors see when they come to your website: product pages, location pages, resources, blog articles, and so on. Technical SEO is what happens behind the scenes of your website: HTML markup, site architecture, site speed, and so on. Off-page SEO includes things like link building, guest blogs, and social media

Here we’ll only be talking about on-page SEO: your website’s content. Thorough and knowledgeable on-page content is an essential piece of the SEO puzzle because it signals to search engines that your content answers searchers’ questions – a key to ranking highly. 

Ranking factors for on-page content include:

  • Keyword optimization
  • Content quality, length, and organization
  • Internal and external hyperlinking
  • Meta information (URL, title tag, and meta description)
  • Images and image alt text

These are all the elements you’ll need to analyze and optimize in order to improve your position in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Seem like a lot? There are tools that can help. 

On-page SEO analysis tools

On-page SEO analysis is much more than sitting around guessing what Google wants. Done right, it will show you the gaps in your on-page strategy so you can optimize your content – and help drive organic traffic and revenue. But you’ll need the right tools. Here are three of our favorites. 

Google Analytics

You’d probably expect that Google has some of the best data on the web, and you’d be right. Get real-time reporting on visitors, traffic sources, conversion rate, and more across devices so you can analyze what’s working and what isn’t. You can also use Google Search Console to drill down into organic search traffic to see what keywords your pages are ranking for.

a chart from google analytics showing site traffic

Semrush

Semrush is an excellent SEO tool for building a keyword strategy. Use Keyword Overview to get a quick summary of metrics, dive deeper with Keyword Magic to build your list, and use the Keyword Difficulty metric to find low-competition keywords that will give you an edge. You can also use it to perform competitive analysis and do topic research. 

metrics from semrush showcasing keyword overview

Yoast

Yoast is an SEO analysis plug-in for WordPress, making it a convenient option for the many businesses whose websites or blogs are built on that platform. Yoast will rate your pages’ SEO optimization and the Page Analysis feature will give specific feedback on where you can improve. It indicates areas for improvement with red dots – once optimized the dots turn green. Yoast’s user-friendliness makes it incredibly popular.

Remember that you don’t just need the tools, but also the expertise to use them. You’ll want to know what your competitors are doing so you can differentiate yourself – or go after them directly. These are all areas that an expert agency like Tuff can help.

How to do an on-page SEO analysis

You’ve got the tools and you’re ready to perform your on-page analysis! Here’s how we do it at Tuff.

Perform keyword research

On-page content that will crush it in the SERPs always starts with finding the right keywords. Use your SEO tool of choice to perform keyword research around the topic you want to write about. Ask yourself:

  • Are the keywords relevant to your topic? 
  • Are these terms regularly searched by your target audience?
  • Can you realistically rank for these keywords?

Decide on your primary keyword

Keyword research will likely give you a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords. Your SEO tool may prioritize them for you, but it will still be up to you to choose your primary keyword. So which keyword will be able to rule them all? Your primary keyword should:

  • Be highly relevant and laser-focused on your topic
  • Have low competition or relate to an area where your business is very strong
  • Not already be used as a keyword in another piece of content (this is called cannibalization, and it confuses the search engines)

Choose related keywords

To create a piece of content that will catch the attention of the search engines, you need to round out your primary keyword with related keywords and topics. Related keywords will help you capture more search intent and can be used to target your PPC campaigns, too. Choose three to five related keywords that are:

  • Based on your target keyword and semantically related searches
  • Related to the intent of your searchers and their stage in the buyer journey
  • Long-tail (three or more words) or other variations on standard keywords

Look for audience questions

The ultimate goal of content marketing is always to answer the questions that your audience is asking. Audience questions, or PAAs (for “people also ask”), help you do that. PAAs are related questions that appear on Google SERPs. Being featured in the answer box is a big deal in SEO, but using these questions can also help you:

  • Rank for the question or long-tail keyword
  • Create FAQ sections within your content
  • Guide your content to ensure it’s useful to your audience

Create a content plan

Now that you have your primary keyword, related keywords, and FAQs or PAAs, you’re ready to create a content plan that will help you conquer the SERPs and drive conversions. But the content you’ll create depends on several factors:

  • What stage of the buyer journey is your searcher in when they search for that keyword?
  • Will they be looking for an informational blog, a conversion-focused landing page, a branded product page, or something else?
  • Can you use it to create content that fills in gaps in your content strategy?
  • Can you create content around this keyword that outranks your competitors?

Best practices for on-page content

You’re almost there. But before you hit “publish,” make sure your content follows best practices. (Yes, Google will know if it does!)

  • Always create high-quality, original content to avoid plagiarism and duplicate content penalties.
  • Structure your content in a way that is informative but easy to read (bulleted list, no large blocks of text). Put the most useful information front and center, then expand upon it.
  • Use your primary keyword in the title, title tag, meta description, at least one of the subheadings, first and last paragraph, and about two to three times per 500 words – but not more. “Keyword stuffing” will be penalized.
  • Use related keywords at least one within the copy and be sure they sound natural.
  • Answer audience questions either directly with an FAQ section or H2, or naturally within your content.
  • Use at least one image and ensure it is SEO optimized with an image alt tag, title, and file name that uses the primary keyword. 
  • Include your primary keyword in the URL structure. 
  • Track your keyword performance and re-analyze and optimize as needed.

 

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to on-page SEO analysis. At Tuff, we have the tools and expertise you need to create and execute a holistic content strategy that drives traffic and grows your business. 

What Does a Holistic SEO Content Strategy Look Like?

ceramic letters spelling out SEO

SEO is a fast-paced world. It seems like every day there’s an update, a new best practice or a new tool to learn. As soon as you get down the basics of technical SEO, you learn there’s a whole different side to it: content strategy. 

A holistic SEO strategy that includes technical SEO as well as on-page growth content is essential to increasing organic traffic – and helping to improve lead generation, acquisition, and revenue. It’s also highly personalized to your business and involves a lot of moving pieces. Here’s how to ensure your SEO content strategy is effective and efficient.

What is growth content?

Growth content includes landing pages, blogs, product pages, and so on that are designed to rank in Google. When you appear at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages), people who are searching for the particular topics you are targeting will discover your brand, click through to your website, and – if your growth content strategy does its job – stay there and make a purchase.

So how do you make a successful growth content strategy? At Tuff, we use site traffic analysis, competitive review, and keyword gap analysis to create a strategy for building content that’s always helpful, engaging, informative, and that gives you a timeline and projections that put the future in focus. 

Do I need a growth content strategy?

Got your eye on long-term growth? Chances are you need a content strategy. True, paid ads drive quick wins, but real staying power and long-term revenue growth comes from a content strategy designed to drive (and keep!) stronger, more engaged traffic over time. 

Some content strategies work more quickly than others – for example, refreshing existing content and filling gaps in your buyer funnel are both “low-hanging fruit.” But overall, a holistic SEO content strategy isn’t meant to be a quick fix. It’s a series of actions and content pieces that build up your credibility over time until you’re outranking your competition and bringing more customers to your site.

Step 1: Do your research

Before you dive in, take a step back and do your research. A truly holistic strategy includes elements of content analysis, audience research, and SEO analysis. 

  • Who are my competitors? You can’t outrank your competitors without identifying them first. We think of competitors in two different ways. One type of competitor is an organization that directly competes with you; agents or sellers might consistently pitch you against them. The other is the competitor that ranks high on the search terms we’d like to rank for. 
  • What are my competitors doing? In addition to performing an SEO competitive analysis, we also take a deep dive into our competitors’ existing content. What does their content look like? How regularly are they publishing? You’ll want to stand out just enough in terms of tone of voice and imagery, while also following established best practices.
  • Who is my target audience? Defining your target audience helps you choose your content topics and build a strategy that answers their questions. That’s why we work so hard to define and understand a target audience for your growth content strategy.
  • What tools do I use? There are many SEO tools out there. We use SEMRush to perform a keyword gap analysis to glean important takeaways.

screen cap of visibility and keyword ranking in semrush

Step 2: Define your strategy

All that research you did in step 1 will reveal the content strategy that will benefit you the most – but you must know where to look. Research will reveal different gaps and goals for everyone, so there’s no real blueprint here. This is where it’s super helpful to have the guidance of an expert that can spot opportunities and overlay a strategy designed to be efficient, effective, and keep goals in sight. 

We have tons of examples of growth marketing strategies we can share with you. Here’s one we compiled for a client with a relatively new business and a site that didn’t have much content:

  • Create content to capture searches that are at the top of the funnel. This means focusing on long-term keywords to grab impressions and clicks at the beginning of the customer journey.
  • Ensure all pieces of content are rich with keywords and, more importantly, that those keywords are followed by useful information for SMEs.
  • Target high-traffic keywords and create content that will capture traffic. We want to go after industry-specific terms that the customers you want are searching for.
  • Ensure your landing pages are working for you. We’ll test your landing pages to ensure they’re answering audience questions and helping to initiate action.
  • Creating guides, how-tos, and informational content for your blog. This will help us construct pillars that we can back link to creating a content web.

Step 3: Determine your focus keywords

No SEO strategy is complete without keywords. As part of on-page SEO, they’re vital to ensuring that whatever is produced is targeted and strategic. Google is clear on how to get your content to rank: Answer your audience’s questions in a concise, authoritative way. But what should your keywords be?

After you perform a keyword gap analysis among your competitors look for opportunities in the 10,000+ keywords where the competition is lower (<75) – lower competition means you’ll have a better chance to rank. Then whittle those down to a more manageable number.

Next hone in on projections. If you start with a pillar piece, you can estimate that if you get on page 1 you can get a piece of the total keyword traffic volume. Do this by taking the total volume of keywords for that piece of content and estimating around 15% of that total.

Sound complicated? It’s just another day on the job for our SEO experts.  

Step 4: Set traffic targets

Growth marketing always comes back to one thing: your goals. And when it comes to SEO content strategy, one of the most important growth marketing metrics is traffic: 60% of marketers say that inbound – which includes SEO and blog content – is their highest quality source of leads. When your traffic goes up, your leads and revenue should follow.

In most cases, you’ll want to see key indicators of growth such as higher search rankings and new traffic within 60–90 days of publishing. Then, within four to five months you’ll want to see significant traction toward your client acquisition goals

Based on your existing organic growth and your growth content plan, benchmark what your organic traffic is like now and set a goal for how much you want it to increase. Then, take the CVR of your current organic traffic and use it to make a projection about how many new customers/clients your new strategy will drive. 

a graph showing different kinds of site traffic in semrush

Step 5: Execute and report

It’s go time. Content is most effective when it’s published consistently over time, so put together your content calendar and get writing. If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content, enlist help. You can find freelance writers on Upwork, LinkedIn, Fiverr, and more. 

Provide them with an outline of the topic and keywords, plus guidelines on your brand identity and style. Even though this is performance content designed to generate traffic, it will also serve as an introduction to your brand for many people, so make sure your tone of voice is consistent and on point. 

Creating and managing a holistic SEO content strategy is pretty involved. Use a project management software to stay organized (we use Trello). You’ll also want to keep a simple spreadsheet that showcases performance and helps you understand what’s generating the most traction over time. SEO content strategy is an ongoing process that is always being updated, refined, and improved to get the best results. 

A dashboard of important growth marketing metrics.

Performance Marketing vs. Growth Marketing: What’s the Difference?

A dashboard of important growth marketing metrics.

Marketing is marketing. Well, not actually. There is traditional marketing, brand marketing, digital marketing, performance marketing, growth marketing, and probably a dozen other terms that we aren’t aware of. And while growth marketing and brand marketing differ greatly, you may see performance marketing and growth marketing used interchangeably, but there is a difference.

Tuff is a growth marketing agency. That much is obvious—you can see it all over our site! But what is a performance marketing agency? And how do what they do differ from what we do? Let’s dig in. 

The TL;DR: 

Performance marketing agencies—marketers that focus on paid channels and typically take a cut of the profit or ad spend. 

Growth marketing agencies—marketers who create holistic marketing strategies centered on sustainable business growth.

What is a performance marketing agency?

A performance marketing agency typically gets paid when certain results occur. This could be a new lead, sale, enrollment, or whatever KPIs  you and your agency agree to. Performance marketing is usually driven by return on ad spend and ROI. If you put $500 into a campaign, then you want to get $1000 back or more. This type of marketing requires consistent tweaking and refining pay per click (PPC) campaigns so that your client gets the largest return on their investment. Growth  marketers are looking at organic and paid channels and conversion rate optimizations (CRO) to find the perfect combination. Performance marketing really focuses on paid channels to achieve their clients’ marketing goals.

What is a growth marketing agency?

At Tuff, we certainly leverage typical performance marketing channels like paid, but we also layer on a lot more to achieve a holistic growth strategy. Growth marketing focuses more on long-term growth for your business. A growth marketer is sharply focused on new customer or client acquisition (how to introduce more people to your business) and conversion.

We do this by deciding what areas are ripe for growth and which ones your business uses but could be using more effectively. A growth marketing team will dive headfirst into the data and analyze it for the best growth opportunities. The growth team may start with the lowest hanging fruit and target people already looking in your market. They also look for ways to expand your business higher up the funnel by engaging new audiences, educating, informing, and encouraging them throughout the customer journey. A growth marketing agency will make sure that you have a solid foundation to build upon. Growth marketing at Tuff  typically doesn’t include managing a sales team, community management, retention specialist, or public relations. While those can be an integral part of a company’s larger growth strategy, at Tuff we focus on getting the right people to your site and having them convert. In short, we keep you from throwing money at solutions that won’t grow your business.

How does growth marketing work?

A growth marketing plan could start with a technical SEO audit that ensures your site’s health is up to par. This could be page speed, URL structures, low-text-to-HTML issues, broken links, duplicate content, and a host of other problems keeping you way down in the SERPs. There is also a content strategy component that helps build upon your technical SEO foundation. This includes optimizing your existing landing pages and finding areas where you need new pages to drive traffic. A growth marketer may determine that creating a blog on your site will help drive top-funnel searches. A blog will lead to more traffic and help drive customers to more areas of your site until they convert. Plus, a growth marketing agency will also ensure that those performance marketing channels we mentioned earlier are active and optimized, so you have a steady flow of leads. At the same time, your business continues to grow from the bottom up. 

At Tuff, we work on retainers because it’s better for your resources. With a retainer we have the freedom to allocate resources to where they are most effective. We continually come up with new ideas and activate new tactics while working to refine and optimize your existing channels. We like to think about it like growing a tomato plant versus growing an oak. A tomato plant needs constant attention to keep producing fruit. The more you feed it and water it, the more fruit you will reap. As soon as you stop, so does your tomato production. Growing an oak tree takes a lot of time but make sure it’s watered enough and pruned; it can survive the lack of sunlight and periods of drought because you have a strong root structure.

The end goal is to make sure your business has a sustained growth plan. A growth marketing agency will balance long-term growth opportunities like organic with paid and tailor your growth plan to match and exceed your business goals.

That seems like a lot, but it’s just a small piece of what a Tuff growth marketer does. 

Performance vs. growth—which one is best for your business?

A performance marketing agency is great if you have a well-established business model and attract new customers. Your business has a healthy website, a high DA, and your organic is thriving. This is where a performance marketing agency can help you jump over some of those low hurdles.

But if you’re a start-up or an established growing business that needs more than just lead generation, that’s where a growth agency like Tuff comes in. A growth marketing agency acts as an extension of your business. It focuses on where your business needs to be in three months, not three days—a growth marketing agency focuses on all areas of the sales funnel, not just the bottom. Going back to that oak metaphor, you’ll never see a 200-foot tomato plant, but with enough attention, you can see a 200-foot oak.

Think a growth marketing agency is right for you? Give us a call.

 

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team, and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.