Used correctly, CanIRank isn’t just a way to help you find new keywords to target; it’s an entirely new approach to growing search engine traffic that will help you dramatically improve the ROI of your content marketing efforts. CanIRank is about helping you spend less time and money on traditional SEO activities like link-building and content promotion. Less SEO means less risk; so there’s no more living in fear of the latest Google algorithm updates or penalties. Most importantly, we hope CanIRank will enable you to spend more time doing what you do best — growing your business and delighting your customers — and less time trying to appease search engine robots. It’s why we think it’s the best SEO software period.

How to get the most from CanIRank

Don’t become too focused on pleasing robots.

In order to achieve these goals, every piece of promotional content needs to earn its keep. There’s no point spending your valuable time writing a terrific blog post that no one will ever read. So how can we make sure that the website content you create gets noticed by both search engines and readers?

The answer requires flipping the traditional SEO process on its head: rather than creating a page and then trying to find ways to push it to the top, we will use CanIRank to ask the question: if I created a page about this topic on my website, what would it take to rank? By spending a few minutes more on upfront research, we can save hours of work later. No more “publish and pray”; instead CanIRank injects much-needed transparency and accountability into the content marketing process. For every piece of content you create you’ll have a reasonable idea of how much time and money it will take to rank well for that topic, and can adapt your content strategy accordingly.

A “New School SEO” Process with CanIRank:

Sound good? Great! Enough theory, let’s see how a New School SEO / Content Marketing process enabled by CanIRank might look in practice:

  1. Brainstorm keyword possibilities

  2. Narrow down keyword options to only those where our site is competitive

  3. Figure out what it would take to rank

  4. Generate an Action Plan for every keyword we want to target

  5. Create the content and follow the Action Plan until we rank!

Step 1: Brainstorm Keyword Possibilities

CanIRank and Google Keyword Planner

Content Marketing works best if you’re not fixated on ranking well for just one or two keywords. Your first step should be to brainstorm as many different target keywords as you can think of. What types of questions do your potential customers have? What related information might they look for before making a purchase? Potential customers rarely use the “correct” vernacular: ask people outside of your industry what words they might use when searching for a business like yours.

If you run PPC ad campaigns (such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads), you can use the keywords from your paid search ad campaigns to inform your content marketing (organic or unpaid search) efforts. In fact, one of the best free tools for coming up with new keyword ideas is the Google Keyword Planner Tool. Enter a seed keyword or a URL and Google will suggest hundreds of related keywords, including the number of times that keyword is searched each month, an estimate of the cost per click (CPC), and an indicator of how competitive those ad placements are.

Step 2: Narrow Down the Keyword Possibilities

Use CanIRank Ranking Probability score to narrow down your keyword possibilities

Hopefully you now have a list of Keyword Possibilities with dozens of topics that you might want to write about. Your next step is use CanIRank to narrow down the list to only those keywords where your website is currently competitive. (Don’t worry, as your website improves in authority, you’ll be coming back to the rest of those topics later.)

On CanIRank’s New Report page, enter a few of the keywords you’re interested in, and the URLs of a few pages on your website. Select “A page like” from the URL dropdown menu so that CanIRank knows you’re trying to evaluate the ranking potential of a similar page as if it were targeting that keyword.  Make sure you use URLs that are representative of the page you’ll be using to target this keyword. For example, if I’m researching a keyword for a new catalog page, I’ll include the URL of a few existing catalog pages. For a new blog post topic, I’ll enter the URLs for 3 or 4 of my existing blog posts. A good trick is to use one successful post, one average post, and one unpopular  post, so that CanIRank will return a range of Ranking Probability values representing “best case”, “typical case”, and “worst case” scenarios.

Try to find keywords with a Ranking Probability score in the 80s or 90s. These are the keywords where you’re most likely to be able to rank without having to spend a lot of time or money on promotion.

Step 3: Find out what it would take to rank

Use CanIRank competitive analysis table to figure out what it would take to rank

Your list of Keyword Possibilities should now be down to the 3 or 4 keywords with the highest Ranking Probability score (hopefully 80% or better). Before you make a final selection, take a closer look at the Competitive Analysis table and “What do you need to improve…?” sections of the Report so that you can get a better idea of what really stands between you and a top ranking.

Are the existing rankers aggressively targeting this keyword by including it (or a variation) in their page title and content? (You’ll need more than good Page Relevancy to rank!) Is your Website Strength lower than most of the other rankers? (Choose a different keyword or be prepared for a long, slow process of building trust!) Do several rankers have low Page External Relevancy and/ or Page Strength scores? (That could be the weakness you need, since those scores are much easier to boost than Website Strength!)

Under the “What do you need to improve to rank better?” section, take note of any Ranking Factors where your URL scores below the minimum for all Rankers. Will you be able to easily increase that score to become more competitive? Click on the “Issues” button to get more specific details: are the Issues limited to one or two areas of weakness that you’ll easily be able to address?

Step 4: Generate an Action Plan

Use CanIRank Action Plans which are designed to address your site's weaknesses.

The deep dive into your website’s strengths and weaknesses vis à vis the competition should have enabled you to choose a target keyword with a relatively straightforward path to ranking. Now you’re ready for the fun part: taking action! Successful content marketing has two aspects:

  1. Thoughtful, creative content creation
  2. Effective content promotion

CanIRank is designed to help you with the second aspect, guiding you towards just the right kind of content promotion necessary to help your content rank well in the search engines and attract a steady stream of free traffic. These promotional activities are encapsulated in CanIRank’s Action Plan. Action Plans are a sequence of SEO and online marketing tasks designed to address the specific needs of your page, so each Action Plan focuses on a single URL competing for one keyword.

To generate a new Action Plan, click on the “Build Action Plan” button next to the URL that is most representative of the page you’ll be using to target this keyword. CanIRank will create the new Action Plan and take you to the “My Actions” page, where you’ll find your first few Actions. Each day you complete (or skip) Actions, CanIRank will generate a new batch of Actions focused on addressing the most urgent needs of your website (from the SEO perspective, at least). We recommend setting aside a little bit of time every day to complete an Action (or 2 or 3…), since small consistent effort will lead to much better results than sporadic spurts of heroic effort (which is not only less effective, it can sometimes lead to search engine penalties!).

Step 5: Create the Content and Promote Away!

Use CanIRank Complete Actions and watch your rankings climb!

Creating a thoughtful and creative piece of content is perhaps the most important step of the entire process. The better job you do creating content that your readers find genuinely useful, interesting, and engaging, the easier you will find the content promotion activities to be. Spend some time putting yourself in the shoes of your customers and thinking about what they would find genuinely helpful. Time and money invested in quality writing, images, and web design acts like a lever to improve the effectiveness of your entire website, making it easier to attract links, keep visitors engaged, and convert browsers into paying customers.

After publishing your dazzling content and spending some time (perhaps 30 minutes/ day for a month) working through promotional Actions, if you’re still not ranking, you may want to try creating a new Report for the same keyword, this time selecting “Existing page” and entering the URL of the new page you’ve created. This Report will show you how your new page compares to the hypothetical model we analyzed previously, and may identify new Issues that you’ll want to build an Action Plan to address.

If you don’t see results right away, take heart: sometimes search engines take time to recognize improvements (especially in smaller websites), but as long as you keep doing the right things, eventually the rewards will catch up to your good efforts!