Every serious business needs a winning Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of SEO, however, there is more that goes into optimising your content for SEO than simply creating posts for target keywords.
A successful SEO strategy involves building your website according to relevant topics and entities to ensure that search engines understand what your content is about. SEO is then about understanding the way Google interprets about 200 site metrics and building the authority of your site and individual pages. An effective SEO strategy starts with determining your audience, and everything flows from there.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
Web pages appear on primary search results in major search engines such as Bing and Google. The search results for queries are ranked based on the content determined to be most useful to the user, and SEO refers to the process of making your website rank higher and gain more traffic from natural or organic search engine results. SEO is considered free because you don’t pay the search engine in the same way that you would for a paid search ad. There are creative and technical elements involved in SEO which allow you to improve the rankings of your web content and drive traffic to your website. These include the ways other websites link to content and the words used in a webpage (as well as the other 200 or so factors we know go into the ranking of web pages).
Cost Effective SEO Advantages
There are many ways SEO can serve as an effective marketing strategy while saving you some valuable cash. SEO is one of the most cost effective approaches to marketing because it targets the consumers who are already searching for your services or products online.
Because the results are quantifiable and trackable, you’ll be able to determine your return on investment (ROI). When done correctly, SEO results in higher quality web traffic, better brand awareness and increased site usability.
The Benefits of SEO
There are many additional benefits to SEO, including the fact that it can be cheaper than pay per click marketing. It allows you to maximise your business efforts as you’ll be able to see results quickly, and unlike advertisements that are cost per action, the results of SEO are permanent.
You will also have free access to customer data and obtain quality rewards if you are able to make it to the top of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), bearing in mind that the top results get the most clicks. When executed correctly, SEO can make you stand out from the millions of websites on the internet. It can take your business to the next level and increase your brand credibility. Consumers and businesses trust the major search engines, and this is especially true for Google. Getting a high ranking can mean better conversion rates.
Why Optimising for the Right Keywords is Vital for your online brand
Keyword optimisation refers to the process of selecting the most appropriate keywords after having researched and analysed the options. The goal of keyword optimisation is to attract qualified traffic to your website from search engines. This part of the search engine marketing process is critical, especially in the beginning. If you get it right at this point, you won’t be wasting time with the less productive keyword campaigns in the future.
As much as it’s important in the initial stages, it’s also crucial to keep research because it is an ongoing process. Keyword optimisation helps you to understand user behaviour, write effective content, measure traffic potential and drive qualified traffic to your website. Google has become less about keywords and more about topics, semantic relevance and entities. Google is trying to interpret user intention though its queries. Keywords are still a backbone of research though.
Integrating SEO with other aspects of Online Marketing
While SEO is critical for improving qualified traffic to your website, it is also crucial to ensure that you integrate it with other online and offline channels. There are a number of strategies that you can use to achieve this.
The first strategy would involve integrating your SEO with PPC and finding better keywords using AdWords. You can also measure your performance using paid social ads, do a bit of re-marketing using Facebook or Google, and perform split testing with social media platforms or AdWords. You can expect better results when this is done correctly.
SEO and Branding: The Team Your Business Really Needs
There are different options available to you for digital marketing, from social media and content marketing to PPC and SEO. No matter what marketing mix you decide to use, there are two key options which should form the basis of your strategy. These are branding and SEO.
One will not be as effective as it should be without the other. When your branding and SEO work hand-in-hand, you will be in a better position to develop your brand as an authority, and users will be able to recognise your name. You will also ensure easy wins when users begin to search for your brand.
How to optimise your site for the Knowledge Graph and at the same time build it as an online authority
To achieve the desired results, you’re going to have to put effort into providing the most precise and comprehensive answers to the why, what, who and how queries that users might use to search. In addition to improving your brand positioning, having your content included in the answer box can drive conversions and traffic to your website.
You are going to need other authority signals, such as domain authority and natural links, among others, and you should endeavour to develop a solid authorship portfolio and clearly define the identity of your brand to your readers.
Elements of an Effective Search Engine Optimization Strategy
SEO can be divided into off-page and on-page SEO. While off-page SEO refers to what you do outside your website, on-page SEO is what you do within your website to improve your rankings. Elements that have to do with on-page SEO include online directories, social media and backlinks, all of which can have an impact on how your website will rank in SERPs.
For on-page SEO, the primary elements include meta description, meta title keywords and content. Without these, the off-page elements can only do so much. To ensure that you have an effective SEO strategy, ensure that you consider the following:
Keyword & Market Research
As much as they may have similarities, market research is different from keyword research in so far as the goal of market research is to discover the kind of market available for a particular service or product and keyword research tools may include WordTracker and AdWords. Market research tools may also include questionnaires and online surveys. It is important that keyword and market research form the foundation of a successful marketing plan.
Keyword research is a crucial aspect of market research when you consider that more people are researching online before deciding what to buy and from whom. The aim of keyword research is both to determine how prospects are asking questions and the best possible keyword phrases for your business.
Technical SEO Audit
Search engines develop algorithms that crawl through websites, comparing them with other websites based on different ranking factors. In addition to content-related issues, there are technical issues which can affect how your website is ranked. Doing a technical SEO audit means reviewing certain parts of your website that need to be improved for the best possible SEO. You should perform a technical SEO audit by:
- Checking for broken links
- Checking for duplicate content across your website
- Optimising your meta descriptions for length and check for duplicate meta descriptions
- Conducting a Google site search
- Looking at the robots.txt file of your site
- Auditing for keyword cannibalisation
- Making sure your site is mobile-friendly
- Checking how long it takes your website to launch
- Checking XML sitemap status
- Checking HTTPS status codes
- Identifying crawl errors with a crawl report
Also called on-page SEO, this refers to the practice of optimising the elements within a website, as opposed to working on elements outside the website. It includes optimising the HTML source code and the content of a page, and when on-site SEO is done correctly, it makes it easier for users to clearly understand the content of the page and its relevance. At the same time, it ensures that search engines are properly able to interpret the page’s content.
Link building refers to the process of obtaining hyperlinks from other websites to yours. Link Building will allow users to click on links in other websites, and be directed to your site. Building high-quality links is one of the most difficult tasks of an SEO, however, the results speak for themselves when they put you ahead of the competition. Many techniques can be used for link building, so don’t hesitate to try different methods.
With traditional marketing becoming less effective than it used to be, many people are now looking to content marketing. This is a different marketing approach because it focuses on producing consistent, relevant and valuable content that not only attracts, but also retains an audience that has been clearly defined.
As with other marketing approaches, the aim is to drive customers to take profitable action. Essentially, you’ll be creating content that helps your prospects solve their problems rather than simply pitching services and products to them. Content Marketing works so well that both the smallest businesses and the larger brands use it.
Explainer videos are a great way for explaining what you do, but that’s not all videos are useful for. Videos allow you to give your SEO a boost which in turn gains you better results, more views and more links for your most important keywords.
Even better, metrics such as CTR, bounce rate and dwell time are improved when people click to your website. Essentially, a video can help you rank for competitive keywords and keep the audience around long enough to engage with your content.
Digital PR involves networking with influencers, bloggers and journalists while sending online press releases to improve SEO, gain social media mentions and accumulate high-quality backlinks. With digital PR, your website traffic and revenue has the potential to improve significantly. Depending on the nature of your product or service and the type of audience that you serve, you may need to work with local newspaper websites and blogs, social media accounts and podcasts.
Outreach and Guest Blogging
Guest blogging and outreach are excellent for creating valuable exposure for you and your business. Guest blogging involves having another blog feature a blog post written by you. Outreach, on the other hand, involves other bloggers writing about you or your business in a manner different from traditional advertorials. The magic in using these elements to improve SEO is that you are exposed to an entirely new audience, separate from your blog readers.
Infographics & Interactive Content
Infographics and interactive content can be very effective tools for improving your SEO as they can continue to give your site life long after they have been published. Well-crafted infographics and interactive content are a great way to generate traffic, get people to link to you, help you demonstrate your authority and lend you a versatile piece of content that can be recycled time and again. Infographics, remain one of the most trusted ways to push your brand higher in the rankings.
Social Media Promotion
It is easy to think that social media and SEO are separate entities with different goals, however, this is not the case. By making organic social media marketing and SEO work together, you can provide more relevance and create more value for your target audience.
There are several ways in which SEO and social media marketing can work together to produce good results. Consider Google’s partnership with Twitter and the fact that relevant tweets pop up in Google search results. Brand awareness obtained through social media improves a business’ SEO rankings and social sharing can contribute to link building. In addition to this, social media breeds more engagement and allows for content promotion.
Even something that seems as unrelated as email marketing can have a significant effect on how you rank in search engines. Email marketing is focused on keeping your audience as engaged as possible and to keep them returning to your website. When you’re able to do this successfully, you’ll be in a better position to maintain a more engaged audience overall, and this in turn results in better on-site engagement.
Email marketing is also essential for content promotion, which, in turn, is essential for increasing the performance and visibility of your content. This can ultimately lead to more traffic and inbound links to your site. In addition, email marketing is well placed for retaining existing customers and building brand recognition, both of which improve your chances of more efficient SEO.
Reporting & Analysis
SEO reporting and analysis allows you to quantify the effectiveness of your marketing. With SEO analysis, you can discover the parts of your SEO strategy that are producing results as well as identify the biggest downfalls.
Without SEO reporting & analysis, your resources will be wasted, as you are unsure of how close you are to your business objectives or how to get there. For SEOs, reports are essential because they’re the only way to keep clients up to date on their SEO efforts.
Tips to Enhance Your Onsite Search Engine Optimisation
Given the importance of SEO, it is essential for any business that wants to be taken seriously in the online space to invest some time in it. However, successful SEO does not necessarily have to be limited experts who have spent years perfecting their knowledge. With these tips, you should be able to do enough for your website or at least, begin your SEO journey.
Step 1: Make a List of Topics
Whilst keywords form the foundation of any SEO strategy, they are not the first consideration. Step one should be to make a list of topics your website would cover on a month-to-month basis. You can start by making a list of a dozen short terms and words which are associated with your services or products.
Then, find out what the search volume is of these short terms and words using Google’s Keyword Tool and work out different variations that suit your business. You will be connecting commonly used short tail keywords with these topics and then you will narrow down your list to about 10 to 15 of the most crucial keywords. Let us call each of these keywords a pillar.
Step 2: Make a List of Long-Tail Keywords Based on These Topics
For every identified pillar, pick out 5 to 10 long tail keywords using your keyword tool. These selected keywords should take a deeper look into the initial topic keywords and enable you to come up with web page or blog post ideas using subtopics.
The goal here is to provide an explanation for a particular concept under the larger topics you came up with in the first step. Feed these into your keyword research tool to come up with long-tail keywords upon which your blog posts will be based. Each subtopic will be a cluster.
Step 3: Build Pages for Each Topic
Create a webpage for each of the dozen pillar topics which you derived in the first step. For this, you’re going to use the long tail keywords you arrived at for each cluster in the second step. Each pillar page can be thought of as a sort of table of contents which briefs the audience on subtopics that will be expanded upon in blog posts.
To determine the number of pillar pages you should have, use your list of keywords. You should be looking to have the number of topics with pillar pages coincide with the number of different locations, offerings and products of your business.
Step 4: Set Up a Blog
Your blog is where you will expand on each subtopic. If your website doesn’t have a blog already, it is at this point that you should create one. As you fill up your clusters and write blog posts, you must remember to avoid including long tail keywords more than three or four times in the content. If you overdo it, you may be flagged for keyword stuffing. It is also a good idea to link to the pillar page for the topic as well as to link to it from the pillar page under which the sub topic is categorised.
Step 5: Blog Every Week to Develop Page Authority
Do not restrict yourself to simply writing blog posts that belong to a topic cluster, as it is also crucial to write about other topics that are of interest to your readers. No matter what you are writing, be sure to post at least once a week, but, this doesn’t mean you should put out just any content. Remember that it’s about the audience first and not the search engines. Take care of your audience first and the search engines will take care of you.
Step 6: Create a Link-Building Plan
As effective as the topic cluster model is, there’s more that needs to be done once it has been created. Link building should be the first step you take towards optimising for off-page SEO. The more authoritative the websites linking to you are, the larger the effect your link building efforts will have on your rankings.
Link building is an ongoing process, so come up with a plan that allows you to take advantage of different ways to build links. You could write a few guest posts, share your posts on social media or even write a piece related to current events for a chance of being linked to by the audience.
Step 7: Stay Current on SEO News, Algorithm Updates & Practices
Much like marketing in general, the search engine space is always changing, much like marketing in general. As difficult as it may be, it is important to stay updated on best practices and current trends. There are several online resources that you can use to stay updated with SEO changes and news which may affect your SEO strategy and your website. Some of the best resources to look at include This Blog!, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, SEOBook and SEOmoz.
Step 8: Measure and Track Your SEO Success
As with everything, it is important to measure how you are performing in order to be able to tell whether your efforts are successful or not. SEO is too time-consuming for you to not take reporting seriously. There are several metrics you can track monthly, weekly or daily to keep your SEO efforts on track. There are tools which are useful for tracking different metrics, including your overall organic traffic and how well your pages are doing for the long-tail keywords you are targeting. You can also track keywords, inbound links, ROI, leads and indexed pages.
Should Your SEO strategy be developed and managed in-house?
The correct answer to this question will depend on you and the nature of your business. There are advantages as well as drawbacks to keeping SEO in-house. It can be good to keep it in-house since an in-house SEO manager will already know the business, allowing them access to your resources in ways that a third-party would not have. Another benefit would be maintaining confidentiality. For more on our managed SEO service click here.
However, in-house may not be the best idea for you due to the increased risk of mistakes. If you are not confident in your employee’s SEO expertise, it might be a good idea to outsource. In addition, it’s going to be expensive to invest in in-house SEO if you don’t already have someone to do that.
Combining SEO and Social Media
As different as social media and SEO may seem, they are actually tightly integrated. The more popular you are on social media, the better your website rankings are likely to be. While popularity of your social media accounts will not directly affect your ranking, there are a number of social features users get to see in SERPs. What you should be looking to do is communicating with users without delay, increasing trust in your brand and improving your brand popularity.
You should combine social media and SEO because social sites are a form of search engine in themselves. Also, showcasing and social discussions improve your SEO, while reviews and ratings increase trust. Users get to see social profiles in search and your brand can attain popularity though the different social media channels.