Search engine optimization is an essential component of any modern business’ marketing campaign. If you want to have any presence online, a substantial digital marketing effort is the way to reach your desired outcome.
We’re going to go over the ins and outs of search engine optimization in this article, detailing what it is, how to go about it, why you need it, and what to expect from it.
This guide can serve as an SEO strategy template for someone who is new to the idea of search engine optimization. So, sit back, take some notes, and let’s dive into the world of SEO.
Why Do You Need SEO?
Optimization is ultimately the process of fitting your site into the niche that your business falls into online. At this point, it’s fair to say that the world of business has gone digital to a substantial degree, and those who want to thrive have to engage with the online world.
With that frame of mind, it makes sense that digital marketing is a must, considering that it encompasses any marketing push that takes place online. You can think of digital marketing as an umbrella that encompasses a number of things.
The largest element of digital marketing, it could be argued, is SEO. Additionally, SEO feeds into most other areas of digital marketing and vice versa. It follows that without any optimization efforts, a digital marketing campaign is going to flounder against serious competition.
So, with that in mind, it should be clear that optimization is an important piece of your modern marketing campaign.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is a business’ effort to form their site to the preferences laid out by a search engine algorithm.
Consider any time you’ve searched for something online. You type your keyword phrase, wait for the page to load, and closely examine one of the first few results. People tend to click one of the top three results of the results page unless the key phrase is a little off or the search engine couldn’t come up with what they were looking for.
In the vast majority of cases, those top results are the ones that get clicked. It isn’t always the most successful or well-known business that finds itself in that spot, though.
Often times, it’s the business that has dedicated the most effort to optimization. When they land the spot in the search results, their sales increase, they acquire more respect online, and the business flourishes as a result.
A solid understanding of the search engine algorithm and the best practices associated with optimization are essential if you want to reach the coveted spot at the top of the results.
We’ll talk about best practices when we go over our SEO strategy template, but we’re going to give you an overview of the algorithm first.
11 Best Practices You’d Use in Your SEO Strategy
1. The Search Engine Algorithm
Google’s business goals are the same as any other’s. They intend to provide the best possible service to their users.
In their case, that means providing the most relevant search results to any given keyword or phrase. They do an excellent job of this, too, which is why Google is the dominant search engine in the world.
Their success is due to the sophistication of their search algorithm. They use upwards of 200 search factors to narrow down all of the pages in their index, finding the most relevant ones to list at the top of their results.
Your job as an optimizer is to nestle yourself into the good graces of Google, consistently generating relevancy to the terms you want to rank for. You don’t have to optimize for all 200 terms because that would be nearly impossible, but you do have to optimize for the essential things.
We’ll cover those essentials in a moment, but there are some things you should keep in mind:
2. Things to Keep in Mind When Optimizing
Again, Google is really good at identifying sites that are relevant to users. This means that your ultimate goal should always be to create a valuable site that solves user problems or provides an excellent experience.
You could create all of the content in the world, optimize for all 200 factors, and invest thousands of dollars into SEO, only to find that you don’t rank because your content isn’t valuable.
All of your efforts should be backed by the idea that quality content succeeds. Great content might not be able to succeed without any SEO at all, but all of the SEO in the world can’t succeed without good content.
3. White Hat and Black Hat SEO
That means you have to be honest. We call honest SEO “White Hat SEO,” whereas dishonest SEO is referred to as “Black Hat.”
Take popups and spam, for example. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who enjoys an inbox full of spam. It would also be hard to find a person who loves a screen full of popups.
Google knows this and snuffs out spammers wherever they are. You could have a great site, only to get unindexed from Google’s archive because you tried to cheat users.
We’re not saying that you would do that, we’re just saying that there are real consequences for trying to cheat the system.
So, with that in mind, what are the best White Hat practices that you should incorporate into your plan?
4. SEO Strategy Template: Methods that Work
The best practices for optimization are always changing because the algorithm is always updating. It can be tough to follow. That’s why a lot of people get help from professionals, but there is some meaningful work you can do on your own.
We’re going to explore some cornerstones of your prospective SEO campaign. We’ll cover keyword research, content creation, site architecture, Pay-per-click marketing, and social media outreach.
While the terms we cover won’t be exhaustive, they’ll set a good foundation for your campaign to take root and flourish. Let’s get to it:
5. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of a good campaign. These are the terms that users search into the search bar, eventually leading to the results pages that you want to rank on.
You’re going to do research in order to identify the keyword trends happening through users in your niche. Google Analytics is an excellent tool, provided by Google, that gives you insights directly into the keywords you’re interested in.
You can identify trending terms, examine the competition you’re facing, and act accordingly.
6. The Optimal Keyword
The dream keyword is one that has huge amounts of search traffic but very little competition. You rarely find these terms, but keep in mind that optimizing for a term with stiff competition might not be the best idea.
You don’t have to try to rank for the term with the highest volume of web traffic. For example, you wouldn’t want to rank for the term “cars” if your business was an auto dealership.
Pull open an incognito tab (your search results won’t be affected by your cookies when you’re incognito) and search a potential keyword. See if the top results are huge companies with millions of dollars to put toward marketing.
Alternatively, see if you could compete with the sites that rank. Some results are locked in, and that’s okay. There’s enough web traffic to go around.
It’s just important that you find keywords that you have the chance to rank for. If you’re not having luck with one particular keyword or phrase, try out some different, similar terms.
7. Content Creation
Your next step is to create content that’s optimized for your search terms.
Make sure to optimize your home pages, product pages, and other essential elements of your site first. Those are going to be the pages that your blog posts and other forms of content lead back to.
Optimizing your essential pages will lay a great foundation for your on-page optimization, but you can’t stop there.
It’s essential that you create regular blog posts that are optimized for trending keywords in your niche. This means researching new keywords and publishing content on a very regular basis.
If a term is trending, that means users are interested in it at the moment. Creating content to match user interests is a surefire way to draw attention and lead people to your site.
Even if you don’t rank for all of your posts, you can still incorporate the posts into your social media pushes (which we’ll cover soon) and meet users where they spend the most time.
Remember, create relevant content. Don’t write sloppy posts just to get material on the web. Make sure that your writing is clear and your message is relevant to user interests.
8. Pillar Pages and Tertiary Posts
When you’re visualizing your content creation efforts, think of them as a sort of funnel. Your main pages, product pages, and essential blog posts are your pillar pages. These are the spots where users can make purchases, subscribe to newsletters, contact you, or engage with your site in another meaningful way.
Your day-to-day blog posts should link back to pillar pages. These posts should include a “call to action” which direct users to learn more by moving to one of your pillar pages.
Eventually, the flow of traffic will establish your pillar pages as ones that receive a lot of interest and they’ll rank higher in search results.
9. Site Architecture
Your site architecture is essentially the layout of your website. This element pertains largely to user experience and the ease with which someone could move through your site.
If you yourself have trouble navigating the pages on your website, it’s probably time to do a little restructuring.
Ensure that your pages are arranged in an orderly manner and users can move logically from one page to another. If the average user can navigate it, that means that Google’s bots can, too.
10. Google Bots and Indexing
Google sends bots called crawlers through the web to index web pages. These crawlers traverse the web through links, gathering up all of the information needed to provide great search results for users.
One piece of information is the quality and arrangement of your website. If your site is scattered, filled with broken links, and illogical, the bot will make note of that. Ordering your content in terms of pillar pages and tertiary pages will help with this arrangement.
11. Social Media Outreach
While social media isn’t listed as one of Google’s search factors, it’s hard to overstate its influence on traffic to your site.
A well-ordered social media campaign should bring a lot of interested users to your site. As they engage with your blog posts and pillar pages, those pages will gain relevancy in the eyes of the search engine.
Sure, 1,000,000 followers on Instagram won’t directly help you rank in search results, but your rankings will improve when those users move back toward your site after reading the content you post.
One great way to increase your social media following is through the use of PPC (pay-per-click marketing).
12. PPC Marketing on Social Media
PPC stands for “pay-per-click,” which tells you a lot about the pricing of the service. You are only charged when users click your advertisement.
That means you don’t have to pay outrageous flat fees for advertisements that might not work at all. Instead, you pay for exactly what you get, and you can set a budget that works for you.
The real value of PPC, though, is the fact that social media platforms have access to very specific groups of people. Your target audience can be marketed to immediately, and those users can then be directed back to your page.
Need More Information?
Hopefully, this SEO strategy template was helpful for you. As you start moving on your campaign, you might find that you need some more information.
There’s a whole lot to learn about SEO, and the more you know, the more success you’ll have. Explore our site for more information on the digital marketing world.
Author: Cathy Carter