With the conception of the first published website (W3) back in 1991, the digital landscape has allowed access to a steady flow of information at the fingertips of people worldwide. Today, there are over 1.88 billion websites in the digital world (Statista). As this number continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to cut through the noise and market your business effectively. That’s where SEO comes into play.
What is SEO & Why Does it Matter?
For small businesses and large corporations alike, SEO matters. Whether your goal is to promote organic traffic, drive conversions through inbound leads or increase eCommerce sales, developing an effective SEO strategy can get you one step closer.
Simply put, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of increasing a site’s traffic through search engines. This process involves making small changes that improve a site’s visibility and authority over time. SEO is a longtail game, and the impacts of these changes won’t be seen overnight. To start, take a look at the big picture and define your goals.
Defining Your Business Goals
The main goal in developing an SEO strategy is to grow your online audience, reaching your target audience with the information they are requesting. While this may seem broad, there are specific objectives you can consider.
- Increase organic traffic from search engines
- Establish authority in search results
- Boost your site’s ranking for certain keywords
- Drive more inbound leads to your site
- Create relevant content that matches search intent
- Design a mobile-friendly site
The key is to decide what business goals you want to achieve and create your SEO strategy around it. If you have more than one goal to achieve, it is important to begin with multiple small changes taking specific actions towards improving your SEO.
Creating Relevant Topics
When diving into content, which is a main pillar of SEO, consider which topics you want to be known for. Based on your industry, start with identifying your target audience. This will help you to then develop what those user segments will search for, ultimately leading to your website. With these answers in mind, create a list of relevant topics, while keeping an eye on current trends.
If there might be more than one topic related to your company, prioritize the ones you want to focus on first, rather than creating content that covers every topic, which will pull your readers in too many directions.. Then dive deeper into the minds of your readers by finding out what potential keywords they could be using in their search that would relate to your topics.
Keyword research should focus on understanding your readers’ goals, helping you to identify the best keywords to utilize for your content. If you’re unsure where to start, you might take a look at your competitors, as often they would have already done some SEO themselves.
There are many keyword research tools such as SEMRush, Moz, and Ahrefs which can help you identify which keywords your competitors are ranking for. If the competition ranks for certain keywords, you should be too. Running a competitive analysis of keywords can help you cover your bases, while also ensuring that the keywords you use are aligned with your readers’ goals.
“Crawl” Before You Walk
On-page SEO strategy will always remain important. On-page SEO helps your website bring in new traffic by ranking higher in search engines.
Before being able to optimize your on-page SEO further, you may wonder how search engines find your content to begin with. A search engine’s three primary functions is to crawl, index, and rank traffic. Search engines crawl the internet, search billions of websites and look over the code that matches the URLs belonging to those sites. Then, search engines index these sites, or store and organize the information found from crawling. Lastly, search engines rank websites by providing the content that best matches a user’s search query.
Links Run The World (Wide Web)
To achieve higher rankings for your site, and to ensure search engines can find your site, take the time to focus on the details. Create a relevant title based on keywords, include a meta description, insert internal links, and scale your backlink strategy. A backlink strategy helps search engines better rank your content by showing how relevant or interesting the content is to other people. If other websites are linking to your content, it signals to search engines that your content is worth referencing, creating authority. Proactively work to build links and focus on growing your network over time, so that others will link to your website, proving its value. Building strong relationships with others is the best method to scale your link building.
Tracking Your SEO Metrics
SEO is all about making small changes to your site to improve its visibility, traffic, and authority over time. Though it may be tempting to read through an SEO guide and immediately start updating your entire website across multiple touchpoints, take a step back and start small. Making too many updates to your site at one time will keep you from properly tracking the outcomes of those changes. Revisit your goals and establish KPIs for the changes to your website, properly tracking each change toward your goal.
Keeping Up With the Latest SEO Trends
The modern digital landscape is ever-changing and shows no signs of slowing down. Keep up to date with your SEO strategy and look toward the future to stay relevant and accessible to your target audience. Methods for optimizing your SEO are sure to become more technical and advanced as technology matures. At the same time, trends, cultural context, and relevant content matters, which all will surely have an impact on keywords and topics being searched for. When it comes to building your SEO strategy, keep in mind it’s a longtail game, but establishing a plan to then execute over time will benefit you in the end.