Branding has evolved from an aspect of marketing to an art form. It takes engaging with customers on all levels and devising a strategic SEO plan to boost visibility.
Appearing on page one of Google search rankings doesn’t happen overnight. Strategy and consistency are vital to the beginning stages of increased awareness. Additionally, patience is required to achieve long-term goals in marketing and sales. Google currently holds 92.58% of the total search engine market share, and 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
Maricielo Solis, founder of BLENDtw, studied the inner workings of how SEO works to elevate her platform for college students. BLENDtw is the leading community for Gen Z, covering college life, wellness and culture. Although it took over a year for her SEO efforts to gain traction, Solis now operates a seven-figure company.
“I had spent all my savings and spent about $10,000 in hiring all these writers and making the publication prettier,” she explains. “I didn’t know why we weren’t getting the traction that we got four months ago with one particular story. I started realizing that I was doing something wrong. I was doing everything wrong because I didn’t know how the publishing world worked… I then understood that I was completely missing SEO. So for you to create content that ranks on Google, there are specific guidelines that you have to follow… I applied all that framework to my website. And it took off. We went from having 10,000 readers per month to having 10,000 readers per day. We started consistently making $10,000 in ad network every month to $100,000 in affiliate marketing. Once we knew how to use it, the website took off.”
Growing up in Peru, Solis wanted to work in media. She attended a university in the States and applied for the NBC Page Program upon graduation. The Program is a rotational learning and development program for students looking to enter the industry. She worked as an assistant on the Lester Hall show, SNL and Today.
From NBC, she pivoted to CNN as a production assistant. Over four years, Solis worked her way to Anderson Cooper’s news team. During this time, at a Telemundo event, she met a Columbia University Journalism faculty member who invited her to talk to a group of students. This turned into a regular occurrence.
“From these conversations,” Solis states, “I realized two things. First of all, Gen Z and young people do not consume mainstream media; they have a very interesting relationship with it. They probably believe that YouTuber more than they believe an anchor with a name. I realized that there was this mistrust, and at the same time, they felt that their stories were not being represented accurately. So that is how BLENDtw was born, which stands for blend the world. It was just a grassroots project that we created in 2017.”
Solis published the platform and collected stories worldwide ranging from gun control and violence in America to immigration to LGBTQ issues. One of her first stories went viral, enough for her to monetize on it. After that, she left CNN to freelance and focus on BLEND.
Before truly learning how to optimize her site, she fell into the trap of thinking that the one viral article would sustain her vision. Quickly realizing that it wouldn’t, she worked odd jobs to pay her bills and keep the platform afloat while delving into the world of SEO.
Solis shares her top three SEO tips for 2023:
Focus on Creating EAT Content
Google values websites that demonstrate expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT) because its priority is to provide accurate information and answer the concerns of users searching for a specific query. Google always rewards EAT content with higher rankings on the algorithm. This type of content includes having clear expertise in the topic you are writing about, primary research such as data, polls, graphs and case studies, and unique images and videos that add value to the reader
Write for people, not machines
New publishers’ number one mistake is that they overuse keywords in their articles. Doing this frequently can hurt your rankings on Google, making it seem like you are spamming people. Instead of using the same keyword in an article multiple times, focus on using variations of that keyword.
Additionally, do not rely on AI tools to write content. The quality of the content is low and will hurt your rankings. AI tools are good at telling someone how to do something but can’t show someone how to do something. Focus on quality content with real-life examples. Experts will become more critical in the next year.
Do not disregard core web vital issues
The Core Web Vitals metrics are more critical than ever with the latest Google updates since they are a fundamental part of the user experience. For example, suppose you are trying to leverage SEO to bring organic traffic to your website. In that case, monitoring the Google search console regularly to identify issues affecting pages on your website is essential. A url with good Core Web Vitals will give you an advantage over your competitors.
Now, Solis speaks on panels helping others understand SEO and how to build out their own platforms. Additionally, she has started an SEO marketing firm, and the platform draws in millions of readers a year.
As she continues to build out BLEND, she focuses on the following essential steps:
- Be flexible in your pivot and how you get there.
- Be ready to work hard, especially if you want to start your own company.
- Be willing to ask questions and ask for help from others in the industry.
“You need to put yourself out there for opportunities,” Solis concludes. “I truly believe that you manifest the life that you want. It’s a mindset; it’s saying, ‘I’m going to do this. It’s going to happen for me.’ But you need to put yourself out there for the opportunities; they’re not going to come to you.”