By Sheeva Azma
This blog is the second article in a two-part series about Fancy Comma, LLC’s content and SEO strategy. Check out the first blog here.
Creating our own website’s SEO strategy helped us increase the value we can deliver for our clients.Tweet
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is essential for internet writing; it concerns the way search engines such as Google scour the internet to deliver the most meaningful search results (and ways to optimize your writing for Google).
I love SEO because it engages my scientific mind, creating and testing hypotheses about what might boost website visibility in Google. I also love SEO because it can be used as the backbone to build and strengthen internet communities (such as the SciComm community, of which we are a part). By using SEO to optimize content for your audience, you can build communities and unite people towards a common goal. In our case, we’d like to think that we are at the forefront of discussion on science writing and science communication more generally, as well as communicating complex topics effectively.
In a previous post, I mentioned that Fancy Comma, LLC rapidly developed a website SEO strategy from scratch in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, given our world’s increased reliance on digital modes of communication. In this post, I expand on our SEO strategy’s successes, discussing four crucial aspects underscoring our achievements.
Keep reading to learn the secrets to our success in implementing an SEO strategy for our website (yes, that’s this website)!
As I’ve previously blogged, creating an SEO strategy from scratch was both easy and difficult. The first step, building a website, took time, diligence, and patience. It was not elegant. It required a lot of work. In the second step, we applied workable SEO strategies to get results. Four ingredients were crucial in this step: a learning mindset, teamwork, persistence, and data.
Fancy Comma SEO Secret #1: A Learning Mindset
A learning mindset underscored our success in SEO. After coming up with the basics of our website content, I had something to work with that I could SEO optimize. So, I spent some time learning SEO anywhere I could. I completed the Beginner’s Guide to SEO course on Moz. I read Google’s guide to how Google Search works. I also watched many YouTube videos about search engines and SEO. Kelly and Kevin, members of the Fancy Comma, LLC Team, also took the time to learn SEO basics. Together, we wrote a guide to SEO based on our SEO knowledge.
Fancy Comma SEO Secret #2: Teamwork
Teamwork was essential in our SEO strategy, not just among ourselves, but with others lending their unique skills and expertise to help Fancy Comma, LLC succeed.
Our team learned the basics of SEO strategy, which we ultimately used in our content creation. We brainstormed about our brand identity and ways we wanted to use our communication superpowers to make an impact. Once we were well-acquainted with SEO, we started blogging. By then, we were able to partner with others in this space to help us grow (and succeed).
We also enlisted the help of SEO marketers. When I was first setting up the Fancy Comma website, I reached out to Lupe Garza, a talented SEO marketer, to help us figure out ways to analyze our SEO performance. As an SEO consultant, he was gracious enough to teach me how to use an SEO management site called Ahrefs, which we still use for our website SEO strategy. Lupe has also blogged for our website about ways to use SEO for local and small businesses. Since then, we’re also worked with Nick Nolan on ways to incorporate SEO in our digital strategy.
For a company dedicated to writing, content strategy, and digital communications, 20,000 pageviews in the first year of our website’s launch is a big deal. In the first year of our web presence, a large portion of our web traffic was due to a collaboration with our brilliant colleague Nidhi Parekh. In the early days of the pandemic, Nidhi and I worked together to develop COVID-19 content for Fancy Comma, including a series of blogs on how the COVID-19 vaccines work, which we’ve since translated into Spanish as well.
We published this content starting in May 2020, well before the media started to figure out the evolving science of COVID-19 and the vaccines. Our blog posts have been retweeted by leading COVID-19 scientists and experts, such as immunologist Dr. Akiko Iwasaki; Director of UK’s Wellcome Trust, Dr. Jeremy Farrar; and virologist Dr. Ian Mackay.
These blogs, coupled with social media strategy to get the word out about them, boosted our pageviews almost overnight — from 600 in June 2020 to nearly 9,000 in July 2020! Read Nidhi’s case study of her work for us here.
Since then, we’ve worked to continually refine and improve our web presence, focusing on providing useful, informative blog content that informs, while also staying true to our brand and marketing ourselves to potential clients.
Fancy Comma SEO Secret #3: Persistence
As a company focused on serving clients in health, science, business, technology, and policy, our skills and expertise were a great match for the challenges of the pandemic. We continued to adapt. We created more SEO-optimized blogs and learned about ways to measure whether our web content was making an impact.
If you know anything about SEO, you know that one pillar of digital strategy is optimizing content for specific keywords. You can look up these keywords in Google Trends to see what people are Googling. Oddly enough, publishing articles about a then-novel virus was itself a lesson in SEO. When we started on our SEO journey to rank for things like “how do the COVID-19 vaccine work,” there was very little actionable data available! This was because there was no long-term data on ways people were using Google to find information on these topics. Yet, we persisted, navigating an uncharted course of events, both in the world, and in our SEO strategy. Webpages can often take months or even years to rank in Google, so it can feel like a waiting game at times. We rely on our strong foundational knowledge of SEO to deliver useful content to our readers and help support freelance science writers, science communicators, and others who, like us, are tasked with the communication of complex concepts.
Fancy Comma SEO Secret #4: Data
Fancy Comma, LLC helps clients with the unique challenge of communicating complex science, technology, health, business, and/or policy information in a unique way. Given that most scientists never take formal communication, business, marketing, or public relations courses, this challenge is one unique to the scientific industry, including biotech, pharma, and the high-tech industry. We therefore find ourselves in a small niche of scientists turned copywriters.
That same scientific mindset is a great asset in SEO. Maybe if more scientists knew about the ways they could apply their analytical skills to science writing, including SEO optimization, this would encourage greater flow of scientific information from scientists to the general public.
Anyway, data has proven to be an incredibly useful asset in our SEO strategy. When we publish posts, we track their success in terms of visibility on Google. We can then update our content strategy to optimize for placement in Google search results. We use Ahrefs to analyze our search data and refine our content strategy to optimize for SEO.
Fancy Comma, LLC’s SEO Successes
We’ve been slowly and steadily working on our SEO strategy since our website’s launch in March 2020. Over the past year and eight months, we’ve had some of our pages rank on the first page of Google Search! Check out some of our SEO successes:
For Fancy Science Shared, a weeklong celebration of the Nobel Prizes that occurred during Nobel Prize Week 2020, we blogged about behavioral economists. As of this writing, the article tops Google’s search results for “behavioral economics Nobel Prize.”
Sheeva, who has interned in Congress, penned an article about what she learned trying to get a job on Capitol Hill. It’s currently ranking in second place on Google when you search for “how to get an internship on Capitol Hill.”
A portion of this blog also, as of writing this post, is included in Google’s “People also ask” feature on the first page of search results.
Finally, our fellow writers often come to Google searching for information on ways to improve their craft. We wrote a blog on pitching articles to media outlets in July 2020. The blog has consistently appeared on the first page of search results shortly after we published it.
The Bottom Line
The pandemic forced us to become experts in SEO and content strategy for our own website, which has also helped us bring value to our clients.
We’re using our small, incremental successes in our website’s SEO to improve our brand visibility. As I’ve discussed, four keys to our achievements in SEO are a learning mindset, teamwork, persistence, and data. We view SEO as a long game, one in which web content must be optimized for humans, first and foremost.
The knowledge we’ve gained in running our own content strategy and SEO for the Fancy Comma, LLC website also helps us better serve our clients. We provide content creation as well as SEO optimization services for our clients. Read more about our services here. We look forward to continuing to communicate complex concepts in a way that both fosters understanding and promotes strategic marketing objectives for our clients.
This article is part two of a two-part series on Fancy Comma, LLC’s content and SEO strategy. Read part one here.