How to Build an SEO Strategy
The one thing digital marketers agree on is that SEO strategy is not what it used to be. Simply focusing on keywords is not enough to guarantee SEO success. Most businesses in 2019 understand basic SEO and why it is crucial to the bottom line.
Unfortunately, when it comes to building an effective SEO strategy, marketers make the mistake of starting and ending with keyword research. SEO strategizing involves so much more. It is optimizing your website pages around topics and keywords within those topics, then building expertise to increase search engine visibility and rank well for opportunity keywords.
It is worth noting that not every business can use the same strategy and succeed. This is because there are so many variables including industry, target audience, business goals, etc. With that in mind, here is the ultimate guide to creating an SEO marketing strategy.
Considerations for an SEO Strategy:
There are a few things you need to consider when drafting an SEO strategy i.e.
1. Understand the business:
Every business is an entity with unique characteristics. You need to know them if you hope to build a winning strategy.
- Company vision: A vision statement is meant to inspire great ideas at all levels, even SEO marketing. If well-drafted, it could also aid your efforts.
- Core values: Any business can only offer so much value to customers. The company’s core values will serve as your campaign parameters, ensuring you offer optimal value to consumers.
- Leadership: This often influences culture in the workplace, especially in small businesses. This may not be true for large companies. Regardless, you should spend time exploring leadership style and if it matches up to the core values.
- Weak links: There are things that knock down the business at varying levels. What drives employees to drink? What challenges are they looking to overcome? And when knocked down, how do they get back up?
2. Determine the optimization goals:
A goal-oriented SEO strategy needs to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
- Specific: Determine the what and why of your campaign.
- Measurable: What are the measures of success? Are you trying to make a certain amount of money by the end of 3 months? Do you want to increase website traffic? And if so, how many visitors do you want to engage with your site?
- Achievable: Ground your optimization goals in reality. While you cannot control Google rankings, you can use competitive data and sales history to your advantage. Leverage the information you gather from leaders, industry influencers, analysts and merchandisers.
- Realistic: Consider the number of resources at your disposal when setting any goals. Your company should also be flexible enough to make proposed changes in time within the timeframe.
- Time-bound: It is important to set deadlines at each stage, and keep the responsible players accountable.
3. Understand the target audience:
If you don’t know what your potential customers are looking for, you are in big trouble. It is important to not only go through the numbers but also understand the in-between stories. Analytical data like clicks and search volume provide credence to the larger theme. It makes it possible to create direction and better understand customer needs.
Use the data at your disposal to find out which areas of the business bring in more money. While at it, identify different audiences within the purchase circle. Platforms like AdWords and Facebook are goldmine consumer outreach. They provide a wealth of information that you could use to create personas for current visitors and those you don’t want to attract.
4. Competitive landscape:
Understanding the competition’s tactics allows marketers to learn from their wins and reinvent their mistakes for better results. There are dozens of tools for competitive analysis at your disposal including SEMrush, Ahrefs, MozBar, and BuzzSumo.
You can use these tools to look up the estimated traffic share and search volume of your competitors’ websites. Going through export data gives you a better idea of which topics draw the most traffic.
Backlink data offers the best illustration of what readers and topics that inspire engagement. MozBar is one of the best backlink data providers. Filter top linked pages and dive into them to determine why they are so popular.
Social media is also a goldmine for competitive data. Users share content that they resonate with, and tools like BuzzSumo help dig through that information. Don’t be quick to dismiss influencers. Use BuzzSumo and similar tools to find out what they are sharing. Pay attention to the more specific themes shared by influencers when conduction competition research.
Read more: 10 Best Backlink Checker Tools
5. Possible challenges:
Every company and industry has its own challenges, and it’s important to know them before going forward. Even with the best strategy, a 6-month ticket queue for the resources required can set you back. Ask questions pertaining to resource support, historic roadblocks, preference for bigger vs. short campaigns, etc.
Keyword research is a crucial facet of SEO strategy and helps determine how your website is ranked on Google. This step involves identifying the keywords you want to rank for. Check out your competition and find out what keywords they rank for. It may even give you great ideas for your campaign.
Spend time with your marketing team brainstorming ideas. Resources like SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner come handy during this stage. It lets you know how many people search for certain keywords and the level of competition.
It is worth noting that while some of the tools are free, they don’t offer as detailed information as paid platforms.
You’ll want to focus your attention on semantic search keywords. Such a keyword database offers great advantages including improved CTR, reduced bid amount and increased quality score. Finding semantic keywords is not as easy as identifying SEO keywords. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can tip the scales.
When it comes to optimizing semantic keywords, it’s best to focus on trending topics. Tools like Google Trends will help narrow down the search. You should also consider studying social bookmarking tags. Dive in and learn how tags are used for bookmarking on social platforms. A quicker way to identify semantic keywords is to use the advanced search on Google.
The next step is to create keywords for conversion. You cannot use the hundreds of keywords identified during the research stage. Flipping through the export files is not efficient either. What you need to do create a master file. Use it to sort keywords and get rid of the irrelevant ones. Assign the keywords to target pages.
You should think about tracking the targeted keywords. Factors that come into play at this point include organic visitors, exact match search, keyword diversity, and phrase match.
Audit and Improve your Website:
While difficult to accomplish on your own, this is the most important step. It is a thorough diagnosis of your website looks in regards to SEO. Some of the things to look for include performance, links, local SEO, mobility, technical, content and social media.
Your website loading speed needs to be lighting fast. Research shows that people leave websites that don’t load in less than 5 seconds. This is particularly for mobile device users, who expect websites to load at warp speed.
Slower speeds will not only affect a number of visitors but also leads and conversions. Take advantage of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a tool specially designed to dramatically improve website speed.
It sounds like a broken record, but your website should be mobile-friendly. Most people do Google searches on mobile devices. And while the specifics vary depending on the industry, failure to have a mobile-friendly website is not an option. Rather than create a separate mobile website, invest in a responsive theme.
3. Fluid site architecture
Websites should be built for readers rather than search engines. They still need to be effective for search engines, just not at the expense of user experience. Users should be able to seamlessly move through your site. This means having simple navigation.
Good site architecture makes it easier for search engines to discover and index pages. It helps increase overall website authority, a critical factor for Google ranking. Additionally, effective architecture spreads link equity throughout your website. This, in turn, builds overall website authority.
4. Micro technical issues
Now that you are done with the big three, it’s time to fix smaller technical issues that may have a negative impact on user experience. These include thin content, broken links, 404 errors, duplicate content and redirect issues. Conduct a thorough SEO audit, covering the following;
- Page-level analysis
- Citation analysis
- Keyword analysis
- Technical analysis
- Link analysis
- User experience analysis
- Competitor analysis
Content is Critical to SEO Strategy:
If you have not updated your website since it went life, you are in big trouble SEO-wise. Good content is crucial to SEO marketing. It gives readers a reason to keep coming back, hence increased traffic and popularity.
The content should be high quality, relevant and recent. Depending on your budget, you could fine-tune your writing skills or hire outside help for this task. Target a specific keyword for every page, and use those keywords in blog posts.
Remember to use emphasis tags like heading tags, bold and italics. Ensure your content reads naturally. This means writing for the user and not search engines. Such posts perform better in SEO. Linking to relevant sites can do wonders for your SEO marketing efforts.
Be sure to post regularly since updated content is a sign of relevancy. Dwell-time is another factor worth considering. How long does visitor spend on your site? Do they read the posts to the end or get bored halfway through? Fresh and newsworthy content encourages visitors to stay on your website for longer, thus improving dwell-time.
Conversion Optimization for a Successful SEO Strategy:
Until a few years ago, no one cared about conversion optimization. But the cost of bringing visitors to your websites is high and will continue to rise. Optimizing your website for conversions allows you to continue spending however you want on campaigns.
Start by surveying visitor data to find out what parts of your site confuse and what they are not buying. Solutions like Qualaroo help you create survey questions that are tailored towards optimization. Use the data collected to determine the required changes for your website.
If the tests you run cause conversions to move dramatically up or down, then visitors are sensitive to those specific elements. That is a good thing. If that is not the case, consider moving on and testing other website elements.
A key component of SEO marketing is building links that are highly relevant. But how do you find relevant links? Let’s say you want to rank for “cat food.” The most relevant link would be a web page that ranks among the top 100 search results for the same keyword. The second most relevant page would be one that ranks among the top 1000 search results for “cat food.”
Contrary to what you may think, most of those sites won’t be competition. Leverage email marketing solutions to mail the top 1000 that rank for your keyword.
It’s best to point links to internal pages that are highly related to the targeted keyword. You’d want all of the links pointing to a page that shows different types of cat foods. This will accrue better results linking to the homepage with random pet products.
Local Search is a Must-Have Component of SEO Strategy:
Google Possum is an algorithm that affects how websites rank in the 3-pack and Local Finder. Its launch saw a multitude of changes in local search results. At least 64% of keywords saw some kind of change, and this is pretty dramatic. This means that Google Possum was a significant update that online marketers should be aware of.
This is particularly important for businesses whose target demographic is strictly within a certain geographical area.
Other ways to pay more attention to local search include;
- Diversifying local keywords you rank for
- Updating you’re my Google Business Listing
- Keeping in mind that Google uses IP addresses when generating search results
While not easy, creating a good SEO strategy can prove lucrative for your business in the long run. You just have to be patient and not try to rank for your favorite keyword without conducting some research. The steps outlined above will put you on the path towards SEO marketing success. And as always, every marketing strategy required perpetual maintenance to keep up with unfolding trends.