Position Zero on Google: A Real-Life SEO Success StoryThe nerdy stuff
Let’s face it – SEO is a wonderful digital marketing discipline, but it doesn’t have a stellar reputation. The search engines, most notably Google, have had to crack down on unethical, black-hat practitioners through algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda. Countless business owners have been burned by companies and individuals who used below-the-belt tactics and weren’t worth their salt. I’m here with a bit of good news, though! When done correctly, search engine optimization can provide big returns for your site and your business. “How?” you ask. Well, I have a real-world example to share with you.
First, Some Background
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me give you some quick basics on the site in question. The Fertility Center is one of my ongoing SEO clients. They have an office here in Chattanooga and one in Knoxville, and they provide fertility treatments like IVF and IUI. Papercut built them a responsive website, and they were interested in continuing their optimization efforts, so I have been working with them on developing content and maintaining their site.
The story I am going to share is about a single blog post that is now ranking in the #1 position nationally for a handful of medical keywords and is bringing in over 200 organic visits a month!
Okay, now let’s get into the good stuff.
Gathering Some Audience Intel
We all know that authoritative, useful content that resonates with your target customer is the cornerstone of good SEO. But where do you get this information? From the horse’s mouth, of course. You can’t be bashful about talking to your clients and having them talk to their customers. They are going to be the best source of inspiration for crafting content that will really “stick.” If you came to Papercut’s event on SEO and conversion rate optimization last week, you already know you can reap big rewards from this.
In the case of The Fertility Center, I knew that a lot of patients and potential patients had questions about a common fertility test, the hysterosalpingogram, or HSG for short. Basically, this is a test that determines whether or not a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked. The Fertility Center has a receptionist that fields questions about this procedure on a daily basis, so I was able to confirm that it is a topic of interest for their patients.
With this information at my fingertips, I put a blog post on the calendar and got to work.
The first step in my writing process is to head to my keyword research tools and see what people are actually typing into the search engines. I let this guide my content creation efforts so that what I write satisfies popular queries that the engines receive and, in turn, is useful to their users. That’s the recipe for SEO success.
After my research, I was armed with a list of topics related to the HSG test that people were interested in. Many searchers, it seemed, wanted to know if the test could detect other conditions that can affect fertility, such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts. Several of these keywords were formatted as questions and were what we in the SEO world call “long-tail” keywords. This means these are searches beyond two or three words. They generally have lower search volume, but their competition is also much lower and they can pull in highly targeted traffic to your site.
If this HSG blog post was going to gain as much traffic as possible, I knew I needed to address these questions in the copy. Working with one of the doctors at the practice, I put together a post that spoke directly to some of these searchers’ concerns. I published it on the site and waited. Patience is a virtue, and there’s no exception when it comes to search engine optimization.
The Power of the Longtail Keyword
By now, I’m sure you’re ready to hear about some results. Longtail keywords can be really powerful, and they’re definitely worth targeting on your site. As I mentioned before, the HSG blog post is now pulling in more than 200 organic visits per month, and it has become the third most popular organic landing page on the entire website. That’s huge, folks. Here’s a graph that shows the growth in traffic to the page:
Traffic is cool, but let’s talk about rankings. Right now, the page is ranked #1 nationally on Google for the longtail keyword “can HSG detect ovarian cysts.” The Fertility Center has a handful of links, and it is beating out other domains with thousands of links. See it for yourself:
These are both great and awesome, but this page did something even better. Let me explain…
Position Zero on Google
So, Google now uses what are called featured snippets in their search results. One of the most common of these is the answer box. These boxes are triggered when a searcher types a question directly into the search bar, and they’re Google’s attempt at providing an instant answer to a given query.
The beauty of this from an SEO standpoint is that if you craft content that targets and answers these questions, you can get this featured snippet and be listed above the #1 organic result. Yes, you can beat the #1 spot on Google without having to buy an ad! It is possible! Even better, these boxes can boost your clickthrough rate from organic search, meaning more traffic to your site. The super-smart SEO folks over at Moz refer to this as ranking “#0” on Google. You can learn some more about the technical ins and outs of featured snippets and ranking in position zero in their blog post about the topic.
Okay, now the really exciting part. The Fertility Center’s HSG post has managed to get featured in more than one answer box!
Here is one for the search “does an HSG detect endometriosis”:
The page itself is the #3 organic result, but the box is sitting above everything else. It’s magic, folks.
Here’s another for “can HSG detect ovarian cysts”:
These boxes are like big, flashing “Click Me” signs. Powerful stuff to have in your SEO arsenal.
The Tip of the Iceberg
I’m really excited about the things this page is doing for The Fertility Center’s website, and I’m even more excited about what it can do in the future. There are more questions to target, and I hope to expand the content in this niche and see what other longtail keywords the site can pull in. Hopefully, more good things are on the way!