I recently discovered that one of my most popular blog posts had made it to the first page on Google and
was even number 4 1out of 163 million search results is now NR.1!
I want to share with you how I did this without spending any money, without guest posting, and without doing much promotion at all. Here are the 12 steps that I took for this particular blog post – How to start a company in Switzerland.
1. Write content that people are waiting to read
This sounds like a no-brainer but as an aspiring writer (my childhood dream since I was six years old) most of the time I actually suggest you write about something you want to write about, and the right people will come to you. This blog post was different. I had been answering questions on this particular topic for a while in different Facebook groups and I had helped people over Skype and in face-to-face meetings. I was basically getting more and more inquires over various channels and people wanted to know – how to start a company in Switzerland. Since my business is all about helping international people turn their passion into profits I never planned to write a blog post that was only intended for people in Switzerland. But at some point I felt compelled to summarise my knowledge in one place – to save myself and others time when looking for this information. So before I wrote the blog post I knew many people were waiting to read it.
2. Write a long and informative blog post
Many people will tell you to write a short blog post and even keep the word count under 1000 words or less. Latest research has actually shown the opposite, people prefer a long blog post when the content is worth it, this blog post you are now reading has 1895 words. So don’t hold back when you are writing about something that requires more words. Just make sure it is really worth reading by giving good value. I already knew a lot about how to start a company in Switzerland and I still spent hours researching the topic and verifying my knowledge to make sure all my information was correct. This is probably the blog post that took me longest to write – about 8-10 hours – but I feel it was definitely worth it.
3. Make it easy to read
When writing a long blog post with a lot of important information it helps to create a summarised overview so people can digest the information quicker. In this post I created an overview table that compared different company forms and made the comparison much easier for someone who is thinking of starting a company in Switzerland. It also helps to split up the content with headers, spaces, bold words when appropriate, and images to make it easier to read.
4. Set up Google Authorship with Google+
The ranking in Google search is largely based on trustworthiness which means the more trust your page has, the higher it will rank in the search results. As a newbie blogger, I have only been blogging since September 2013, my page doesn’t rank very high
but by connecting my WordPress site to my Google Plus profile using Google Authorship I can increase my trustworthiness. The reasoning is that Google then knows that I am a real person and therefore the trust of the page goes up. In the search results Google will then always display my profile picture, my full name from my Google Plus account and how many followers I have on Google Plus. And people will always click on a link with an image rather than a link without an image. Update August 28th 2014: Google has cancelled Google Authorship but the relevance of Google Plus has become even more important for authors. By posting original content on Google Plus you increase your chances of showing up higher in the ranking – and with an image and tagline as well.
5. Have a title that people search for on Google
How would you search for the information in this blog post on Google? That is how you decide the title for your blog post. In this instance it was very clear to me how I would search as I had also been in the position looking for this information. If you are not sure how people might search or you have many different options, then use the Google Keyword Planner to see how different keywords rank. Using the planner shows that the keywords “company in Switzerland” result in medium competition and 1600 searches per month. I could also have chosen to title the blog post “How to start a business in Switzerland” as the keywords “business Switzerland” also have medium competition and 1090 searches per month. I recommend choosing medium competition keywords over low or high as high competition will probably not get you on the first page of Google as there are already so many others competing for that space and low competition basically means that not many people are looking for this kind of information. When using the planner for this post it dawned on me that my initial title idea for this blog post “How I got my blog post to number 4 on Google” was not going to work, the obvious choice would be “how to get to number 1 on Google” but that would not be correct as I am not there (yet) so I decided on “How to get on the first page of Google” which describes even better what this post is about and “first page on google” has medium competition which is great!
6. Add tags to your blog post
I have always added tags to my blog post and sometimes I am more thorough, like with the post in question. If you are using WordPress there should be a little box to the right of your text editor called Tags. Enter at least 5 to 10 words that describe your content but don’t misuse the tags and enter words that have nothing to do with your content, then Google can punish you and mark your website as spammy. To keep your blog consistent you can also choose words from your most used tags.
7. Use a SEO plugin to optimize your post
I recently switched to WordPress SEO by Yoast and highly recommend that plugin as it gives you a list of what you need to do to optimize your blog post. It asks you to pick focus keywords for your post and already brings up suggestions when you start to type. The focus keywords are basically the words people would use when searching for your blog post. You need to pick at least two words in order to have an effective search and preferably something out of your title. In the case of this blog post I have picked “first page on google” to be even more specific. Once you have picked your keywords it will check if you are using those keywords often enough in your post, if your images have alt-tags with that title etc. Once you have done enough optimization you get a “SEO: Good” and a green light indicating that you are good to go.
8. Promote your post on social media
Like with any blog post I write, I always share it first on my Facebook page, on my Twitter account and post it to my LinkedIn profile. Then after a few hours or the next day I also share my the post in those groups where I feel the content of my post can be helpful. I don’t always share my post in groups but this particular post was something different and therefore I shared it in 3-4 groups on Facebook and in one group on LinkedIn. I got fantastic reaction from the Facebook groups where people thanked me for writing the post and on LinkedIn where I posted this in a Swiss startup group I also got excellent feedback on how I could improve my blog post. I took the opportunity and updated my blog post a few weeks later with all the good comments I got.
9. Post a link to your blog on Google+
Since the aim is to rank high on Google search so that people find our content, it is essential to post your content on your personal (and business) Google Plus profile. I am not very active on Google Plus but I make sure to post a link to all my blog posts there and I have also connected with a lot of people within my industry and outside as well. Even though my posts there get little interaction, maybe just 1-3 likes and 1 share it is enough to bump it up the ranking list.
10. Use shareable images for social media links
This is so basic that I thought of skipping this one on my list but I still see people share content on social media either without an image or with an image that doesn’t reflect what the post is about. I have also been guilty of using images that are unrelated to my posts, just to have a beautiful picture or actual photograph in my case as I always use my own photography. Recently I have started to pick the images more carefully and now I create special Facebook link images for my blog post that have the recommend size for Facebook shares. Few days ago I also started to put the title of my blog post on top of the image with my favourite image software for social media images, Canva.
11. Re-share later
One month after I wrote the blog post “How to start a company in Switzerland” I updated it a few little details based on the feedback I received the first time. I then re-shared the updated blog post on all my channels and in some groups again. It is highly likely that not everyone sees your social media shares the first time and therefore it is wise to repost after a while and preferably on a different weekday and at a different time. If you give it enough time between shares people will not feel annoyed by your shares and Facebook will not punish you for sharing twice the same link. As a result you get more traffic to your blog post, you can hit a different time zone that missed the last share and you are able to reach new people.
12. Repurpose the content
When you notice that you have a blog post that is more popular than most of your blog post, you need to think about what you can do to leverage that popularity. Already before I wrote that blog post I was considering creating a course on how to start a company in Switzerland. Seeing how popular the blog post was I got more convinced that I should go ahead even though most of my clients are international. If you are interested in the topic, then get on my mailing list here below.
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