We’ll come right out and say it: you need a website.
Almost every business nowadays has one, and those that don’t are missing out. Online presence is key because most clients and customers find services and products online.
Anyone can build a site. CMS platforms like WordPress and Wix make doing so a breeze, even without coding experience. But how do people find your website? Will it appear on the first search engine results page (SERP) of Google, Bing, or Yahoo?
Getting people to your website is the name of the game when it comes to generating customer engagement and making sales online. However, unless you have a solid SEO strategy, your digital marketing efforts can limit you to the nether regions of the SERPs.
This article covers everything you need to know about creating an effective SEO strategy for your business. But before we get to the meat and potatoes of the matter, we’ll lay the groundwork with some basics first.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization or SEO is a collection of techniques for improving content and site design to create better online visibility.
And, by better visibility, we mean seeing your site on the first page of search engine results pages. Why does it have to be the first page?
Think of how the average person looks up a product or service. It all begins with typing a search term or keyword that describes what they need.
Type "french coffee press," for instance, and you will be redirected to a list of websites relevant to french coffee presses. If you get more specific in your search by adding a word like “buy,” you will get results relevant to buying a french coffee press.
You will also see that there are thousands and sometimes millions of results. Some are local, and others beyond your immediate vicinity.
Indeed, search engines provide options. Nonetheless, the abundance of options can actually be the illusion of choice. Because let's face it: looking at pages upon pages of search results is overwhelming.
In this situation, what would you click on? Quite likely, any of the results on the first page. And you are not alone. In fact, more than 70% of user visits go to companies present on the first page of Google. Since these companies attract most of the traffic, we can expect these companies to make the most sales too.
How did these companies end up so high on the SERPs?
Those companies paired relevant content with a site design that allows search engines to see what’s on each page and determine its relevance to user searches (a process known as indexing).
SEO is all about creating content and websites that are user-friendly and search engine-friendly to get as many people onto your website as possible.
Are All SEO Strategies the Same?
Search engine optimization, at its core, can make sites more visible, leading to successful search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns. This is not just anecdotal — nearly four-fifths of businesses that use SEO claim that it is a sound investment.
In addition, any SEO strategy will likely address things like page indexing, content enrichment, and site design.
So, in many ways, we can say all SEO techniques are the same. Be that as it may, there are differences. And the differences lie in SEO strategy.
An SEO strategy is a way of using SEO techniques to maximize the chances of the following:
- Ranking well amongst your industry competitors (not against ALL sites)
- Reaching your target audience
- Publishing content that your readers or customers can really sink their teeth into
- Generating more views, leads, and potentially sales
These goals will guide the following:
- Who you want as your audience
- How you create content
- How you design your site (e.g., whether or not to use a certain CMS like WordPress, Wix, or WebFlow)
- What you need to do on your site’s back end (or under the hood, if you will)
That said, SEO strategy is not the same for all companies. After all, different companies have different needs, circumstances, staff competencies, and target audiences.
For this reason, you need to have an SEO strategy that caters specifically to your needs. As well, you want an SEO strategy that aligns with your goals as a site owner or entrepreneur.
How Do You Know If Your Website Is Built to Speak to Search Engines?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, search engines “see” your web pages through a process called indexing. In this process, search engine crawlers scan and catalog the contents of your pages. Cataloged pages can then be matched to user search queries.
The more relevant the contents of your page are to the search query, the more likely you are to appear on the first page of the search results.
What Do High-Quality Pieces of Content Need to Help Your Site Rank in Search Engines?
Content creation is one of the most important pieces of any SEO strategy. You can have a mesmerizing landing page, but without giving your audience a reason to stay on your site, your bounce rates will go up (the rate at which people leave your site immediately after arriving). And, by the way, high bounce rates are not good for ranking on search engines like Google.
Great SEO content will provide value to your audience, use keywords effectively, have an appropriate structure, and be mobile-friendly.
Here are the steps to create content for your SEO strategy:
Step 1: Take Stock of Your Audience
Optimization of any sort will amount to nothing if the content is:
- Does not answer a question or provide value
To ensure that your content is relevant, you need to add your general audience to your content planning. The considerations you need to include can be:
- The niche or industry
- The target demographic(s)
- What those people want or need
People will click on content that appears to have been created just for them. It answers the question they’re asking or solves the problem they face.
In short, know your audience before creating your content.
Step 2: Do Some (Long-Tail) Keyword Research
In addition to knowing who you’re creating content for, you need to ensure that people are actually looking for what you’re creating. And what better way to determine this than with keyword research.
Keyword research can give you insight into what search terms or keywords people use for a certain topic. Knowing this is important since you will have to include these keywords in multiple parts of your content.
There are short-tail keywords, and there are long-tail keywords. Which you prioritize will depend on whether you need an Amazon SEO strategy or Google SEO strategy. For non-eCommerce platforms and search engines, go with long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords consist of at least four words. Google tends to place more weight on these since searches consist mostly of long-tail keywords.
There are many tools available today that can help you with long-tail and short-tail keyword searches. Here are some examples:
- Surfer SEO
- Keyword Planner
Once you have your keywords, you need to include as many of the keywords in your content as possible. However, do not stuff the same keywords into one blog post or video in a repetitive way. Excessive keyword use is actually a bad thing.
Google is getting smarter. It can detect content “misdemeanors” like duplicate content and… you guessed it — keyword stuffing.
You need to ensure that keywords are incorporated naturally. By naturally, we mean as they would appear in normal speech.
Your post’s headings are excellent opportunities for keyword incorporation. As a rule of thumb, you should place keywords in up to 70% of your headings. This applies to H1s, H2s, H3s, and even H4s (if you have them).
You can also use the main keyword in your URL. You can incorporate the keyword into your URL during the page design process. Some CMS platforms like WordPress and Shopify allow URL editing.
Step 3: Build a Solid Foundation
Writing content for web pages or blogs is not as simple as creating a Word document.
Headings play a crucial role in web page indexing, so don’t overlook the importance of how you use headings. Most importantly, your title should always be an H1, and it should be the only H1 on the page.
For the best results, your intro should have some kind of hook that makes the reader want to continue reading. Don’t dangle information just out of reach, though. Always answer the big question in your intro to let the reader know they’re in the right place. Then expand on that answer in the following sections.
After your introduction, incorporate headings to summarize your content and make it more skimmable (Use H2s, H3s, and H4s). Keep the sections of text under each heading to around 300 words or less and limit paragraphs to two to three sentences.
Sticking to this structure makes your content reader-friendly and also search engine-friendly.
Step 4: Tweak Your Site for Speed and Mobile-Responsiveness
Your SEO strategy should also include site speed and responsiveness. Site speed is an important ranking factor for Google.
There are some things you can do or delegate to make your site faster for users.
- Go easy on hi-res images and videos
- Go light on the coding (something for your web developer)
- Choose a faster hosting service
- Go with an SEO-ready CMS or site builder platform like WebFlow, WordPress, Wix, Shopify, or Drupal (with additional modules)
Doing these things can speed up your site and give your visitors an excellent user experience, making both your users and Google happy.
We also recommend you make your site look and perform well on mobile devices. At the time of writing, more than half of all internet users worldwide are on their phones. If you wish to maximize your traffic, you need to optimize for mobile users.
Similar to a site that loads too slowly, sites that don’t work well on small screens will result in users leaving as soon as they arrive. Google also takes mobile-friendliness into account when determining which websites to show first in search results, so don’t overlook mobile optimization.
Final Thoughts on SEO Strategy
Optimizing your content and site should be the cornerstone of your SEO strategy. However, beneath all the technical undertakings and nuanced marketing research, remember the user.
At the end of the day, everything we do is for our users — aka our customers. So long as you bear this in mind, you can create engaging content on an optimized site that will generate a lot of hits.
But if you need help, or if you are still confused, there is another way.
Agency Jet is a full-service digital marketing agency offering everything from SEO content optimization to SEO-friendly site creation. Together, we can create an SEO strategy tailored specifically to your goals, industry, and competitors.
Give us a call at 612.888.2538 or take advantage of our 100% free and 100% educational (no sales pitch) guided website assessment.