Search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital aspect of modern day digital marketing and, as such, it means you need to have a strategy in place. An SEO strategy will allow you to ensure that your website ranks well and sees improvements to its rankings over time, which could lead to higher traffic, engagement and conversion rates.
However, to rank well with Google, there are a number of rules that you need to play by. This can seem fairly daunting if you don't have SEO experience or a specialist on hand to take the lead. That doesn't mean you can't create a successful SEO strategy though, especially if you ensure you have these five components:
1. A good website
The starting point of any good SEO strategy is a good website. This doesn't just mean that the website looks good, it also needs to use neat coding that provides structured data so the site is easier to crawl. This will mean the site is easier to understand from a search engine point of view, ensuring you rank better than sites that feature messy coding.
A great way to make sure your site is easily crawled by search engines and ranks well is to use a website builder. These are easy to use, ensure mobile optimization and allow you to deal with basic SEO tasks. To further improve your site's SEO, it is a good idea to use an SEO plugin, which will allow you to better optimize more technical aspects of the website.
2. High quality content
Content is still king when it comes to a website's visibility and SEO ranking, so high-quality content should be an important part of your SEO strategy. Content should be well-written, grammatically correct, of value and informative. In short, it should give people a reason to come to your site, stay on it and click through to other pages.
Of course, your content needs to rank well when it comes to SEO, which also means being based on good keyword research. This will require looking into the search terms that people are using to find businesses or content within your sector and then selecting the most relevant that will allow you to rank higher. You may find that selecting lower ranking terms is better otherwise you'll be going up against large companies for top ranking terms and so it will be incredibly difficult to compete.
Once you have your keywords, your content should use them in a natural way rather than packing them in. This will ensure you rank better and will not be penalized for keyword stuffing.
3. Link building
It isn't just enough to regularly post high-quality content on your site, your SEO strategy also needs to include an offsite publication schedule to help with link building. This is known as off-site optimization and can drastically help to improve domain authority, which in turn can result in a higher SEO ranking.
This doesn't just mean sharing your content across social platforms, you need to create content that will establish your brand as a credible authority within your sector. You can do this through writing content for external publishers - which can include posting articles on LinkedIn - to showcase your expertise and company.
Including a link back to your site can help to improve its authority over time and get people clicking through to it, which also raises awareness.
4. Social media
Sharing content on social media may not always provide what Google views as ‘credible backlinks’, but including social media in your SEO strategy is still important.
Marketing Consultant Brian Honigman believes that social media can play a big part in SEO ranking;
Today, links are mainly achieved through developing original content that is in turn, shared across social media. Links to your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and other social networks help the search engines understand what websites are credible and should be ranked for what keyword phrases.
While it isn't entirely clear whether this is the case, social media profiles do rank in search engines, with Facebook and Twitter pages for companies often coming top of the list when searching for brand names. Active social channels can, therefore, make a big difference to the visibility of a company, with many people being just as likely to click on a result taking them through to a Facebook page as they are to go to your website.
Having a social media plan as part of your SEO strategy could make your organization more visible, while also providing you with a platform to share content and showcase the identity of your company.
As well as having tactics to help improve your SEO, you need a way of measuring its effectiveness. This means having a good reporting strategy in place that will allow you to see what is working and what you need to change.
Tools like Google Analytics let you see the organic traffic coming to your site and compare it to previous periods in order to assess how it has improved. You can track this by day, which will also let you see if any specific pieces of content led to a jump in stats. You'll also be able to track the most successful content in general, helping you to adjust your plans to make the most of high-performing topics or keywords.
You can also set up Dashboards, which will deliver a quick snapshot of your site's performance to give you a better understanding of how it is performing as your SEO strategy is in place.
Creating a successful SEO strategy can be tricky, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the more technical side of it. Following these guidelines above will help you to stay on the right track and create an SEO strategy that works. However, with so many different thing to remember, it can be easy to forget some key components, so we’ve created this checklist for on-page SEO.