The Land & Expand SEO Strategy

Simple steps to start ranking in Google

Hey hey hey…

Happy Saturday to every unicorn in the galaxy.

SEO can be a long, dull slog…

But several readers have reached out about where to get started.

Today I’ll share a simple routine you can use if you’re just getting started.

There are paid tools like SurferSEO that make this easier and more thorough but in the spirit of my last topic, “avoid complexity”, we’ll keep it simple.

Today’s growth strategy: Land and Expand for SEO

Growth stage: Early

Difficulty level: Easy

“Just get on base. Most people fail at SEO because they go too big, too soon.”

- Matt Gray


Get Better at SEO

If you want to get better at SEO, you should read everything Glen Allsopp writes.

Aka as “ViperChill”, he shares some of the most generous and unique SEO insights online.

Here’s his free newsletter (double opt-in required).

I’ve been learning from him for probably 10 years now and he continues to share nuggets. Thanks Glen!

Need to Know

🦄 Google now has an ad library where you can study your competitors

🦄 How to reverse engineer winning ads with ChatGPT

Land and Expand (SaaS)

“Land and Expand” is a popular go-to-market strategy among SaaS products. It typically means gaining a foothold in an industry with a wedge product.

The goal in the “land” phase is to get your foot in the door with customers by selling a small solution to meet a specific need.

Once you prove out the value of your solution you then “expand” your business by upselling on features, scaling to more users, or cross-selling additional products or services. The idea is to build an ever-deeper integration with the client.

I like this phrase and think it’s apt for a loose style of low-effort SEO experimentation.

If you’re just starting out, don’t have VC funding and wondering what to publish, this approach could be for you.

If you’re looking for details on a more sophisticated SEO strategy, I recommend reading SEO for Startups.

Land and Expand SEO Strategy

When launching a new SEO project you want to get some wins on the board quickly, but it can be hard to know where to start.

Presumably you have limited budget and bandwidth.

So you need to make some well-placed bets across a few dimensions to see where you have a chance to “land” among the SERPs without too much trouble.

Here’s a light-weight path forward.

Step 1: Keyword Research

If you’re not already using a paid keyword research tool and are unsure where to start, check out the most popular free keyword tools here.

When doing keyword research, these are the basic dimensions to consider:

Keyword business potential: how lucrative these organic visitors could be to your business. This is a function of customer intent and potential revenue.

Keyword volume: how many monthly searches can the term generate if you do start ranking for it

Keyword difficulty: how much domain authority will you need to rank highly for it

Permutations across these dimensions would look like this:

I’d recommend placing bets across a range of keywords with low to high difficulty, high intent and low to high search volume.

Long-tail keywords can be a good source of high intent but lower difficulty keywords.

Step 2: Write your article

Don’t get carried away.

500-1000 words of original content is probably adequate.

But don’t just spam some ChatGPT bs.

Step 3: Add internal links

Use variations of your target keyword phrase as anchor text from other relevant articles on your site.

Step 4: Publish Content

Write as many low-effort articles as you can across a range of difficulty, intent and search volume levels, focusing on topics core to your desired authority.

Another dimension for experimentation is content type.

Test different content formats, but usually you’ll want to use the format that’s prevalent across current top search results:

  • Listicle

  • How to

  • Review

  • Comparison

  • Comprehensive guide

  • Other common page types in your niche

Step 5: Monitor Google Search Console

You’ll probably start by getting impressions (but no clicks) for ranking 47th or higher for a long-tail keyword.

Pay attention to what search queries Google begins to show your articles on.

When you start to get impressions for a keyword phrase that fits the user intent you’re looking to attract, you know you’re onto something.

Now it’s time to make a click-worthy page for that keyword phrase.

Step 6: Improve Articles Ranking for Valuable Keywords

Rewrite your article, doubling down on content quality and optimizing for topics semantically similar to the terms that are garnering impressions.

You can use one of the many tools available to optimize seo content. (By the way - in the near future, all Unicorn Growth subscribers will have free access to a tool that studies the top ranking SERPs and reveals the structure of the top ranking articles).

Step 7: On-Page SEO Optimization

There’s a lot to be gained from being attentive to simple details of your content’s structure, the words you use and the markup behind it. Here’s a good primer from Clearscope. You can download an on-page SEO checklist within the article if you fill out a form.

Step 8: Enhance Content with People Also Ask & Related Searches

Many Google results include People Also Ask (PAA) options, which are great for understanding what other questions your target users may want answers to.

Expanding your content to explicitly answer these questions is a great way to increase the usefulness of your content, which is always a good thing.

People Also Ask:

Related Searches:

Step 9: Add Semantically Related Keywords

Google’s Keyword Planner will show keywords related to your target phrase. Adding these keywords in natural ways to your content will increase Google’s perception of relevance to the main query.

Step 10: Increase Topical Authority

Consider expanding your content strategy to include related topics, as Google will perceive your site to be developing topical authority on a subject if you publish a significant amount of content on the same subject and demonstrate a depth of knowledge.

Step 11: Refresh Content to Improve Recency

“Freshness” is important to Google for certain topics. Knowledge can evolve quickly and Google’s mission is to surface the most relevant and up-to-date content possible. Make sure to add any important topical updates since you originally published your article. Include an Updated Date, or at least modify the Published Date, so Google knows it’s fresh.


Here’s a ChatGPT prompt to help you think about ways to expand your content strategy in a topically consistent way:


I'm an SEO developing a website on [topic] and want to develop topical authority around it so I can increase my domain reputation in this industry. I have an article targeting [keyword phrase] that has started ranking, what are some semantically related keyword phrases I should also write about to further demonstrate my domain's topical authority? 

topic: seo content optimization 
keyword phrase: seo content optimization tools


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✨ That’s it for today!

I hope this helps you in your growth journey.


PS - Happy 4th of July to those of you in the US! Freedom rules.

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