Formulating your SEO strategy involves three major steps:
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
This page provides general guidelines for getting started on each of these aspects and helps you create a strategy that’s tailor-made to your business needs.
Despite seemingly complicated and overwhelming challenges, getting leads through organic traffic still boils down to two main factors: high-quality content and backlinks from credible sources.
Keyword research plays an important role in both. Your content is unlikely to be well-ranked if it does not contain the right keywords. It’s important to incorporate keywords into your content in a natural fashion, and avoid keyword stuffing.
Here’s 8 ways to be strategic in your keyword research:
- Understand your customers and their wants and needs
- Have specific goals – they must be quantifiable. They could be page ranking, number of visitors or number of conversions, for example
- Brainstorm related topics – make sure that your content is relevant to your products or services
- Compile a list of main keywords – these keywords will serve as the basis for secondary keywords and topics
- Utilize reliable keyword research tools – you need to be able to compare the competitiveness of keywords. We like Google Search Console and Keyword Planner, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, and SEMRush
- Understand the intention of the search queries you rank for – some people search online to get information. Others want to buy something. You must know their intent when they found your website
- Pinpoint long-tail keywords – these are necessary for highly specific searches that are less competitive
- Research your competitors – you should understand what makes your competitors successful. Identify and use their best practices and develop your strategy to out-compete them
On-page SEO is crucial to where your pages and website as a whole are placed in search engine rankings. On-page SEO primarily includes ensuring your keywords are in the page’s:
- Through the content – naturally!
- Image alt-tags
Google and other search engines index your website based on your keywords – it’s how they know what your website is all about. There is a hierarchy in the way keywords are ranked based on their positions on the page. For example, keywords in titles are generally given more importance and are ranked higher.
There are usually SEO tools built into the backend of your website, such as WordPress’ Yoast plug-in for example, that will help you check you’ve appropriately used your keywords.
Aside from keywords, there are also other factors to consider:
- Length of articles – according to Hubspot, the ideal blog post length is 2,100-2,400 words
- Duplicate content – duplicate content will be penalized. You should definitely avoid this. Conduct an audit of your website to see if there is any duplicate content there and rewrite it
- Content updates – fresh content tends to rank higher in the SERPs. It is crucial to regularly update your content
- Outbound links – Including outbound links to authoritative websites can improve the credibility of your website both in the eyes of search engines and in the eyes of your target audience. However, you shouldn’t use too many (two or three per article is good), and you should make sure they are proportional to the length of your content
- Internal links – it is a good idea to interlink topically connected articles. This will reinforce their authority and lift your rankings for that cluster of content as a whole
- Mobile-friendly website – make sure that your website is compatible with mobile devices. In the last quarter of 2019, about 53% of global website traffic came from mobile devices
Off-page SEO mainly refers to backlinking, which serves as a vote of confidence for your website. Remember that only quality, relevant backlinks are recognized as authoritative by Google and other search engines.
Here are some ways you can build quality backlinks for your website:
- Guest blogging – create quality backlinks through guest blogging on other websites. Just make sure that these blogs are authoritative and relevant
- Press releases – create a press release for each important update for your business. Press releases must be interesting and contain a hook, or something that will make people want to read them
- Directory links – list your company on relevant directories which include a link back to your site
- Create a Google My Business page – setting up a page for local Google search is important in driving local traffic, especially if you have a brick and mortar business.