If you’re trying to do SEO by the seat of your pants, odds are good that you’re not going to get far.
Carving out search engine supremacy requires strategy. Lots of strategy.
Long before you worry about any of the technical tasks of SEO, it’s important to formulate a coherent SEO strategy designed with the challenges and goals of your business in mind.
There are an almost endless variety of ways to approach SEO.
Some businesses perform SEO as a sort of afterthought. A tertiary task which supports their existing business model and content creation strategy.
Other businesses rely on SEO as a core tenant of their business. They use techniques of content marketing to break into new markets, analyze search trends for new business opportunities, and put heavy emphasis on organic traffic for attracting leads.
When it comes to SEO, things are never quite black or white.
Neither of these approaches is right or wrong, or necessarily any better or worse than the other.
Which one is right depends entirely on the needs of your business.
The Broad Strokes of SEO Strategy
Before we get too into the weeds discussing the philosophy of creating a good SEO strategy, let’s back up for a minute.
What exactly does someone mean when they say “SEO strategy”?
Let’s take a look at some tasks you might find on a To-Do list for your typical SEO strategy:
- SEO Audit: Perform a complete SEO audit of the website. This means looking at everything from server configuration to page layout to actual search engine results and rankings. A complete SEO audit attempts to evaluate the problems limiting a website’s search performance and identify opportunities to improve the site’s optimization and search performance.
- Keyword Research: Perform a deep dive using public search engine data as well as third party and proprietary SEO tools to identify relevant and potentially lucrative keywords which can be targeted for inclusion on the website and eventual search placement.
- Content Marketing: Produce highly search engine optimized content focused around keyword research. Maintain and curate a growing content base as it attracts organic search traffic from Google and other major search engines.
- SEO Reporting: Consistently monitor analytical data on website performance, traffic numbers, search engine rankings, and other metrics to create and present highly actionable reports to company decision makers.
- Outreach: Reach out to relevant websites, businesses, media, blogs, and other potential collaborators to widen your brand’s digital reputation and secure valuable backlinks.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze the search rankings and high ranking competitor’s websites to identify potential keywords and best practices to implement into your own SEO strategy.
In just about every SEO strategy, you’ll find some combination of these core elements at play.
The truth is that anyone with some degree of technical ability could run through the basic SEO checklist.
Listing out the tasks betrays the complexity of a truly effective SEO strategy.
To explain why, we need to switch our focus mostly to content.
Why Content is King of SEO
If we zoom out our perspective far enough on this whole matter, it becomes obvious that we don’t really have anything but the strength of our content to get us to rank.
In SEO, we tend to compartmentalize things. Typical SEO parlance treats “content” as just the words on the page, the video on YouTube, the files on the download list — the actual meat of a webpage.
But in a broad sense, your content is the entirety of your website. Every single aspect of setup and SEO that was performed to generate the website is little more than a vehicle for the content on the page.
If your SEO strategy isn’t putting content at the forefront, then you’re working on a losing strategy.
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
When it comes to content, the same is true!
For many, the word optimization conjures the idea of some arcane technical process. Some means by which a clever person can turn a mediocre website into a stellar one.
It’s true that you can “optimize” subpar content. That content may perform slightly better than it did previously.
What it won’t do is compete with high quality content.
Think of it like this: all of the “optimization” that can be performed on subpar content can be performed equally on high quality content.
The moral of the story?
A SEO strategy isn’t something which is applied to your content.
A SEO strategy is something which informs the creation of your content.
Set Goals. Achieve Goals.
We are often approached by business owners who just want “more traffic.”
Their heart is in the right place. So is their head. They know the simple formula of:
More traffic = More Leads = More Business
So what’s wrong?
Well, wanting “more traffic” is a nebulous desire. It’s something we need to pin down.
Sure you want more traffic. But to get there, we need to create some goals based on measurable, empirical numbers.
Only by establishing these clear goals and tracking our progress over time can we determine if our strategy is actually effective.
Let’s take an example.
Say we’re trying to grow a client’s website traffic by 5% over six months.
Search engines want to provide their users with information which is useful to them.
If a user — disabled or not — finds a webpage through a search engine which they cannot effectively read, navigate, or interact with, that is a negative experience.
As a result, pages with poor accessibility can be excluded entirely from the search results, regardless of the strength of their content or what optimization efforts were applied.
To do this, we perform extensive keyword and competitor research.
We estimate that we can get a minimum 5% increase over the next six months with a plan involving:
- Full SEO audit and site optimization
- 2 New pieces of optimized blog content per week
- 5 New backlinks a month
Now we have some clear numbers to work with.
Over time, we can refine this strategy. If the new content pieces aren’t attracting enough traffic, we can refine our keyword approach, add more content, or investigate other options.
This is an incredibly simple example — far too basic for any real world application.
But what it illustrates is the kind of planning and approach you should take to your SEO.
Combine these goals with clear reporting from your SEO agency and you will be able to rapidly determine the efficacy of your SEO strategy.
Now you have the invaluable information you need to inform the course of your business moving forward.