Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you’ve probably heard about search engine optimization and why SEO strategy is so important to business.
If not, a quick refresher: The key benefits of SEO include higher search rankings via search optimized web pages, increased website traffic, and an overall greater return on investment.
There are several techniques for SEO, ranging from small to large, that you can use to make web pages more search-friendly. This includes optimizing meta descriptions, replacing broken images, and creating unique, engaging content—whichever techniques you want to incorporate, it’s time to stop flying blindly into your SEO strategy. The six questions below can be used to help guide your company in the right direction and make an informed decision about its SEO approach.
1. What am I trying to accomplish with this SEO strategy plan?
Ask yourself: What are you trying to achieve with SEO? What does success look like to you and how will you know that you’ve reached it? Focus on identifying your brand’s goals, objectives, audience, and competitors.
To help you identify what you’re trying to accomplish with your SEO strategy plan, consider the following tactics:
An SEO Audit evaluates how search engine-friendly a website is. It allows you to see what problems exist on the site and what can be improved on. Start by using a tool to crawl the site to find things like broken links, broken images, and titles or meta descriptions that might be longer than the optimal length. Explore how accessible your site is for search engines and how many pages are actually able to be indexed. Analyze the way that on-page and off-page factors affect your rank. Then, compare how your site stacks up to your competitors.
Google uses backlinks as one of their ranking factors. Earning backlinks that point to your site as authoritative and trustworthy can help you to rank higher. However, it’s possible to earn backlinks that are spammy or low quality. It’s important to do an assessment of how many links you have earned, where they come from, and what the anchor text of each link is.
Content and Conversion Audit
Use this time to analyze how your content leads to or prevents people from converting. Is the copy engaging and persuasive, or could it stand to be rewritten? Is the site user-friendly and have a clear conversion path? This audit will allow you to see what gaps there are in your content and how you can set up pages to convert.
Business Goals and Strategy Planning
When you’re planning your SEO strategy, it’s important to identify what goals you wish to achieve. Setting goals that are obtainable and allow you to track your performance can help you to determine how successful your approach is. For some, this might be working to obtain a certain number of page one SERPs or a percentage increase in website traffic.
It’s crucial to document your plan as you create it so that everyone on your team is able to easily identify how your optimizations are affecting your progress towards reaching your goals and what still needs to be done.
KPI’s measure the success of your SEO efforts. The metrics that you choose will help you to prove the value of the time, money, and effort that you are using to rank higher in searches and increase traffic to your site. While KPI’s can help to validate your spend, they can also provide a warning for when an SEO campaign is not performing the way that it should so you can review and refine your strategy.
Keyword research allows marketers to identify popular words and phrases that people search for, as well as the demand for the keywords and how hard it would be to obtain a high ranking in organic search results.
It also lets marketers analyze how users search for a term. Keyword research can help you to learn more about your audience and the intent behind their search.
2. How will I turn leads into customers?
Creating a website that appears on the first page of search results can lead to higher page views, but how are you planning to convert those page views to actual purchases?
The best SEO strategies go above and beyond search rankings—they help with conversation. Copy, design, and the user experience of your website are all critical aspects of turning leads into customers. It’s important to analyze the pages on your site where people buy, sign up, or make contact and use your insights to help you outline your strategy.
Focus on how your content, design, and user experience can turn leads into customers. Here are a few things you can do to identify how the conversion funnel works on your site:
This is where to analyze how pages are performing by looking at key metrics such as traffic, bounce rates, time-on-site, micro-conversions, and actions taken. While conducting a conversion audit, you analyze the website from the eyes of a customer, identifying areas that could be improved to increase the conversion rate. This means you take into account how design, layout, and content can affect how likely a customer is to click your Call-To-Action.
Planning your content strategy will allow you to manage how all content will be created, published, and archived. Your content strategy should evaluate all of the content that your customers might encounter and why that content needs to be created.
This might include using keywords identified during keyword research to write blogs or writing new pages to lessen content gaps with competing sites.
Content Optimization and Split-Testing
Split-testing allows you to compare changes to key elements against one another to see which one performs better by splitting traffic between two variations of a web page. Most people use A as their control website, usually the current internet site, and B to test something new. By running the tests simultaneously, you can test what changes have a better impact on traffic and conversion rate.
Landing Page Optimization
Your goal should be to create a landing page that has a high conversion rate. A strategically designed landing page will capture your audience’s attention while drawing attention to the Call-To-Action. Aim to create a landing page that will capture the interest of both search engines and visitors to your website.
Wireframing allows you to take all your learnings to create mock-ups of any proposed changes. Start by defining your information hierarchy—the order in which you want visitors to process the information on your website. You should aim to create a wireframe that is fundamentally strong enough to provide a good user experience before you begin focusing on things like colors or fonts.
3. What content will I create?
Content is great for helping you rank for specific keywords and leading to conversions, but good content can help you establish your brand while building a relationship with your customers. Content marketing and SEO should work hand-in-hand to help you create a website that stands out to both search engines and users.
There are so many different types of content that you can create, such as:
- Guides or How-Tos
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Organize and plan for all the content that you want to publish in a content calendar, which can help you find new ways to repurpose old content. Aim to create consistency in your brand’s voice and tone across all channels.
4. How will I optimize my website for search engines?
There are several on- and off-page SEO tactics that you can utilize to make your website more search engine friendly, such as:
Google penalties occur when a site receives a negative impact on their search rankings after an update to Google’s search algorithms or a manual review. They can occur for the entire site, a specific keyword, or a specific page on the site. There are several reasons that someone might get a penalty from Google for engaging in a practice that goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines, such as unnatural links or cloaking issues.
It’s important to regularly use Google Webmaster Tools to check to see if the page has been hit by a penalty, especially if traffic has dropped. If your site has been hit with a penalty, it’s important to focus on recovery to restore lost growth and make new progress while adhering to Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Backlink Removal and Disavow
One of the many things that web pages use to determine the relevancy of a website is how many incoming links come from other websites. If these links are spammy or low quality, Google might hit you with a penalty. While it’s important to attract good links, working to remove bad links is a critical task of SEO.
Sometimes, you can simply request that a webmaster remove the link from their website. However, if you are stuck with a few bad backlinks, both Google and Bing have a disavow tool that will allow you to tell search engines to ignore those backlinks.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing both the content and HTML source code of a web page to improve page rankings. This includes adding title tags, metadata, and internal links to optimize the content on the page.
There are several things to focus on to improve on-page SEO, from making sure that the subject is in the title tag, URL, the image alt text, and the text content, to providing unique content about a subject.
It’s not enough to just create content that ranks well. It’s important to have content on your website that persuades your audience and actively works to create conversions. Google has made it clear that its algorithms favor content that is written with the audience in mind, rather than page rankings.
For companies that use SEO tactics to rank higher, rather than working to create quality content, they live in fear that the next update to Google’s algorithm might penalize them for building content around Google’s algorithm.
Any on-site apps or interactive features used should be optimized to create the best user experience. If you have an on-site search, ensure that it makes it easy for visitors to find the content they are looking for on your site.
Paid Social Management and Profile Optimization
Creating active social media profiles can help you build on your owned and earned marketing efforts while providing more potential for traffic to your content and website.
5. How can I make both my audience and search engines view me as trustworthy and authoritative?
It’s not enough to just create content—you want to create content that frames you as trustworthy and authoritative to both your audience and search engines. Here are a few ways that you can make your brand appear as knowledgeable within your niche:
Authority Strategy Development
Go above and beyond wanting to rank well, and focus on establishing your website as a knowledgeable source within your niche. Utilize content creation and link building to make your brand appear authoritative to search engines.
How will you use social media to expand your reach and connect with visitors? Aim to create a social media strategy that is consistent and establishes you as a trusted authority.
Content syndication allows you to publish your content onto third-party sites to drive more traffic to your site or get exposure for your brand. Focus on creating a content syndication strategy that aligns with your business goals—for example, focusing more on syndicating links if your goal is to increase traffic and leads. There are a variety of paid and non-paid content syndication platforms that you can utilize to push your content out to new audiences.
Links from an authoritative, relevant website can improve rankings while driving traffic. Use white hat tactics that are Google-approved to create a plan to acquire links from trusted sites.
Guest posting allows you to tap into new audiences and expand your reach, while also providing an opportunity to earn relevant links. Aim to place posts on websites within your niche.
Digital Media Relations
Aim to establish mutually beneficial relationships with those that can help you achieve your business goals. This might include exchanging guest posting opportunities with other blogs, offering your brand as a resource for the media, or utilizing social media to build a relationship with others in your niche. You might even consider using influencers to expand awareness of your brand to a new audience.
6. Who will implement the SEO strategy?
It’s not enough to create an SEO strategy for your brand—you need to decide who the key players will be in implementing your plans. Whether you choose to keep your SEO strategy in-house or hire an agency to help you achieve your business goals, it’s important to take into consideration how the execution of your plan can affect your results.
Keeping it in-house may seem cost-effective, but utilizing a team that does not have the experience with SEO to conduct things like an audit or wire-framing a good user experience can make it harder to reach your KPI’s. And in some cases, it can end up more costly to keep your SEO strategy in-house, particularly if your team does not have the knowledge or time to execute it properly. If your team is not familiar with basic SEO tactics, it can cost more internally than it would be to hire an agency to assist you.
Whichever route you choose to go, it’s important to remember that a good SEO strategy is more than just identifying keywords and optimizing content once. To see some of our SEO work, click here, or contact us to learn more about how we can help your company’s SEO strategy.