A good SEO strategy is a big part of any marketing plan, and it’s important to understand why you need one at all. If you’re still not sure where to start, keep reading. We’ll explain what an SEO strategy entails, how to put one together, and show you some examples of the kinds of things you can do with them.
In a nutshell, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s a way to get people who are looking for specific information — like you — to find you. The goal is to make your website as visible as possible, so more users will recognize it when they Google “[your keyword].” You may think that this sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of ways to screw up an SEO campaign.
How to Build a Good Strategy
An effective SEO strategy starts with understanding exactly what you want out of it. In fact, many companies fail because they try to optimize their sites for search results without knowing what those results actually mean for their business.
Do you want better rankings for your own products or services? Do you want people to click through to your site from other pages on others’ sites? Are you interested in getting more traffic to your blog? How much money would you be willing to spend on your efforts?
Your answers to these questions should guide any decisions you make about how to optimize your site. For example, if you want more clicks on your product page, you might decide to use images instead of text. If you’d rather have people click through to your site from another site, you might choose to link back to that site. And if you don’t know how much you want to spend, you might decide to hire an expert.
Once you’ve decided on your goals, it’s time to set your budget. If you’re going to pay someone else to help you achieve your goals, you’ll probably want to estimate how much you’ll spend. If you’re going to do most of the work yourself, you’ll want to give yourself room for error and flexibility. Either way, you’ll also want to consider how long you expect your process to take.
After you figure out your goals, budget, and timeframe, it’s time to choose which optimization tactics will best meet your needs. There are dozens of different techniques you could try, from using social media to boosting your Alexa ranking. But unless you’re planning to change your entire site, it’s usually easiest to focus on just a few things.
That said, here are some common ones you’ll almost certainly want to include:
Keyword research. A key benefit of optimizing your site for search results is that you can rank higher for your target terms than you otherwise would. So make sure you know what terms your customers will actually type into Google when they’re searching for something specific. If you don’t know what those terms are, ask people who already buy your stuff. You can always add new keywords later, but if your site isn’t optimized for the terms you’re targeting, you won’t see the benefits.
Content creation. Creating high-quality content is essential to good SEO. This goes beyond writing blog posts and articles; it means creating videos and infographics, too. Make sure your site has easy-to-use navigation, clear messaging, and great visuals.
Social sharing. Social media plays a huge role in search engine algorithms, especially Facebook. Your followers are likely to share your content if it’s interesting and useful to them. Social shares can boost your rankings dramatically, so make sure your content gets shared often.
Link building. If you want people to click through to your site from other pages, you’ll need to build lots of links. These can come in several forms, including blogs, guest blogging, forums, directory listings, press releases, and more.
Backlinks. Backlinks are links that point to your site from other websites. They’re a huge factor in deciding how well your site ranks, so you should make sure to get plenty of them.
Mobile friendliness. More and more people are browsing the web on phones and tablets, so your site needs to look good on smaller screens. Test it out, then make sure it looks good on both desktop computers and mobile devices.
User-friendliness. When was the last time you used a website that took too long to load? Did you find the navigation confusing? Were you able to easily find what you were looking for? All of these things affect how well your site ranks in search results.
There are plenty of more things you could add, such as choosing the right hosting service and investing in SEO plugins for WordPress, but these are the basics. Once you’ve got your list, start thinking about which strategies will best accomplish your goals.
How to Use an Effective Strategy
Once you’ve chosen your strategies, you’re ready to implement them. Before you can do that, though, you need to get everything off the ground. That includes creating a solid foundation for your site and making sure you’re following the latest SEO best practices.
For instance, you should always use rel="canonical" tags whenever you post duplicate content to multiple URLs. Doing this gives Google an extra hint that each URL is unique and authoritative. On top of that, every page should contain a sitemap to let Google crawl your site properly. You should also use 301 redirects to move old URLs to new ones, so Google knows you’re no longer linked to them. Finally, you should use HTTPS whenever possible. Google prefers encrypted connections over unencrypted ones, so use a certificate whenever possible.
You should also try to create unique content wherever possible. If you’re publishing a blog post, for example, you should write a separate version for your About page and a separate version for your Contact page. Then you should publish those versions separately (if you can), and use canonical tags to indicate which version belongs to which URL. This makes it easier for Google to index your different pages.
Even if you aren’t creating unique content, you should make sure your site is fast. Slow loading times can hurt your search rankings because visitors will leave before they even hit your homepage. So you should invest in a reliable hosting service and make sure your server has enough RAM and disk space to handle lots of simultaneous requests.
Finally, your site should be easy to navigate. That means having a good menu system, using descriptive titles for each page, and using clear callouts to direct readers to the parts they need. Don’t forget to test your site for accessibility issues, too.
When you’ve built out your site, you’re ready to begin implementing your SEO strategies. To do that, you’ll need to check on your site regularly. If you haven’t seen any improvement in traffic or sales within a reasonable amount of time, it’s a good idea to reassess your approach.
If you’re still struggling to break through the clutter, you might want to consider hiring a professional. Hiring a company with proven expertise in SEO can save you tons of time and frustration.
Focus on User Experience (UX)
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to optimize your site for search results is focusing only on your search engine rankings. Yes, your site needs to have the fastest possible loading speed, but it also needs to be easy to navigate, attractive to look at, and intuitive to use.
To create an awesome UX, you need to design your site around the needs of people who visit it. For example, you shouldn’t rely solely on keywords to attract traffic. Instead, you should use keywords strategically throughout your site to help keep visitors engaged.
Then, after you get people inside your site, you need to keep them there. You should use calls to action throughout your site to encourage people to buy your products and services. And once they have bought your stuff, you should send a follow-up email to thank them for buying from you — again, using your keywords to draw attention to yourself.
All of this takes time to build, so it’s important to start small. Start by putting your site’s navigation front and center. Then, make sure each page clearly tells visitors what they need to do next. Finally, use analytics tools to track your progress.
If you consistently see people leaving your site or buying from you less frequently, it’s a good sign you’re doing something wrong. Try changing your focus, tweaking your copy, or adjusting your design. Sometimes, a little experimentation can lead to massive improvements.