When you’re building your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, it can be difficult to know where to start with the plethora of information available online. You can gain a lot of great information from reading various articles, however, putting it all together to create a cohesive strategy is more difficult.
SEO is all about making sure your website and online presence, including the content and images you publish, shows up in the right places to attract potential clients or customers when they’re looking for the product or services your business provides. That means you want to be at the top of the search results page for important keywords relating to your business.
One of the most important things to remember about SEO is that it’s cumulative. Every step you take to improve your SEO builds on what you’ve done previously and will continue to help you into the future. In that way, they’re kind of like bricks. You need to lay a strong foundation to build on. But unlike bricks, SEO will become more effective as your website grows, like a snowball effect. You’ll also need to make an effort to maintain your SEO.
There are six essential “building blocks” you’ll need to complete your SEO strategy.
- Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the foundation you build everything else on. It’s important not to overlook technical SEO because it encompasses the details that are necessary to ensure everything runs properly, and it dictates how Google’s algorithm interacts with your website. This is extremely important, because if Google can’t read your website’s content and data properly, your pages may not be indexed and listed on the search results at all.
I highly recommend hiring a technical SEO professional, someone who is well-versed in the technical side of SEO and can find and fix errors when they occur. They also play an important role in ensuring that everything is set up correctly so your website and SEO strategies operate the way they’re intended. An expert in technical SEO will know what to be on the lookout for and can keep you from encountering common problems.
Cutting corners on this step can end up costing you in other places. It is foundational because without the proper setup, the rest of your SEO efforts may go to waste. If there are errors with your website, it can cause Google to be unable to read your pages, or it can even result in your site being penalized by Google, which can be difficult to recover from.
The second block in building your SEO strategy is the content you place on your website and other places on the web. While technical SEO ensures that your website functions properly and interacts with Google so your pages are able to show up in search results, you still don’t have much of a website without content. If you don’t have content, there’s nothing to show up on the search results page.
A good content strategy begins by defining your audience—who is your ideal customer? What is their need that your business can fulfill? What questions do they have that you can answer? Then, start building content that addresses their questions and needs. It’s really helpful to build out a spreadsheet to visually display and track your content strategy.
The more content you publish in your area of expertise, the more authoritative Google’s algorithm will see you in regards to that topic. It increases your credibility in Google’s eyes, meaning that it is more likely to send users to your pages. But it’s not enough to simply publish a lot of content within your realm of expertise. If you want to rank well, you’ll need to publish better content than that of your competitors. Always research the keywords you want to rank for and the competition for those keywords. In some cases, it’s beneficial to go after less-competitive keywords. But for more competitive keywords, you can examine what the top-ranking pages are doing well, and then create content that’s even better.
- Digital PR
Digital PR describes the way you interact with the rest of the internet and the way that reflects on your website and business. There are a number of things that factor into this, such as whether your business has positive reviews and the number of high-quality backlinks you have in place.
Link-building is the process of gaining backlinks, which are links to your website from other places on the internet. Each link you get is like a vote from that website saying, “There’s something valuable here.” Building links takes a lot of work, but the payoff in terms of SEO can be well worth the effort.
While there are many strategies to gain more backlinks, the most important thing to remember about link-building is that high-quality links are worth more than many low-quality links, such as links from spammy or disreputable sites.
- Local SEO
Something some businesses overlook when creating their SEO strategy is local SEO. While it may be incredibly difficult to compete for certain keywords on a national or global level, it can be more achievable to reach the top of the search results page for that same keyword on a local level. In many cases, the majority of a business’s target audience is local, so it makes sense to target them on a local level.
One of the best tools for local SEO is Google Maps. If you haven’t already, set up your Google My Business account, which will allow you to claim and edit your listing on Google Maps. From there, you can fill in your information, add pictures, respond to reviews, and gain useful information about user behavior through the Insights Dashboard.
It’s worth putting the effort into optimizing your Google My Business listing, because for local searches, the Google Maps results often are the first thing a user will see.
- Online Reputation
Your online reputation plays a major role in how Google will rank your website. Remember, you want to be seen as a reliable authority to Google’s algorithm. Google wants to send its users to relevant, safe, and authoritative websites. Your reputation is affected by all three of these things. If your website has bugs or viruses and isn’t safe for users to visit, Google won’t recommend it. If your website is full of bad information or spammy content, that also doesn’t reflect well on you.
There are other factors that play a role in your website’s reputation, such as the number of high-quality backlinks you have (or conversely, low-quality backlinks can harm your reputation), whether you have many positive or negative reviews on your Google My Business Listing, and whether you engage in any “black-hat” SEO practices. Black-hat SEO describes strategies that break Google’s rules, and using them can get you penalized.
UX describes the user experience of your website. This is one of the last steps of building your SEO strategy because it can require quite a bit of fine-tuning. It involves things such as the design of your website, how easy it is to navigate and find answers to questions, and the value of the content you provide, among other things. Obviously, you want users to have a positive experience with your website, but it can be difficult to know what users will respond to best. For example, what kind of phrasing and images are most effective on your home page? When you run into a question like this, you can run an A-B split test with two separate versions of the page to see which creates better results. The A-B testing method can be used for many aspects of your website and is a great tool to find the most effective way to engage with your users.
Search engine optimization is an important part of your business’s marketing strategy. If you do it correctly, it can make a big difference in the amount of revenue your business earns. Craft your SEO strategy around a strong foundation focusing on these six areas to improve your search rankings, increase your traffic, and earn more revenue.