Looking for tips on an SEO strategy that will knock the socks off your competition and leave your customers at a loss for words? We offer some of our best next-level research and advice. Read more.
Do Your Research
If you want to create a knock-out SEO strategy, you need to stay current and on top of the latest trends. Google is a fast-paced tech giant, and they are in charge of the algorithm you are trying to “please.” Read up daily on the latest and greatest changes Google has made to their algorithm to better optimize the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for their users. Keep pace with Google by learning from SEO thought leaders like Rand Fishkin and others. Take a look at some of the latest trends below.
Quality Above All Else
Google is always striving for relevance, continually changing its algorithm to better meet the wants and needs of its users. One of the tech giant’s current focuses is user intent rather than keywords. Don’t get us wrong, keywords are still the glue that holds an effective SEO strategy together, but now, just as important as having the right keywords in a blog is having the right content to meet the user’s search intention. This comes down to answering the right questions being asked by the user at the right time. Google has also been focusing on comprehensive content, content that answers all of the right questions. Today, content that performs best is usually in the 1,800-2,000 word category, answering all of the right questions when a search is performed.
In 2015, Google launched a machine learning artificial intelligence system called RankBrain. RankBrain helps Google deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. It works by serving results to Google’s users and changing those results based on their responses. If the user engages with the content they are served, measured by the time they spend on the page, Google will serve those results to them again. If the user does not engage, Google will push those results further down the SERP. With RankBrain in place, keywords are good enough to get you in front of people, but if you are not engaging them with quality content, your overall rank will go down and you will not have a second chance to get in front of them again.
Google has been increasing the appearance of “Quick Answers” in the SERP, those little boxes at the top of the page that (if they get it right) answer your inquiry quickly and directly. Results like these are great for user experience, providing the user with exactly what they are looking for right away. Take a look at the example below to see what we mean. With and more and more users searching on mobile and using voice search to answer quick questions, changes like these make a lot of sense for a search engine looking to stay on the cutting-edge. Keeping up with Google today means producing content that answers questions as they would be worded vocally to get onto the top of the page and into Google’s “Quick Answers” box.
Another factor currently affecting rank on Google is load time, both on desktops/laptops and mobile devices. If you think about it, users who are experiencing terrible load times on your website may attribute that to Google and jump search engines. It is in Google’s best interest to push sites like these down the SERP. Developing a fast and functional site is imperative to an effective SEO strategy.
Make It Presentable
If you are reading this blog, you are likely a business owner, a marketing professional working for a business, or a contractor asked to “create a strategy for SEO.” Whatever the case may be, you are working for a business, so you need to be able to show measurable results tied to business goals in your SEO strategy.
Identify Business Goals
Sit down and think about why you are creating a winning SEO strategy in the first place. What are your current business goals? New customers? Upsells to existing clientele? Nail down the exact results you would see if your SEO strategy were effective and be able to explain exactly how the SEO work you are about to do can meet those goals. For example, “Writing comprehensive, engaging blogs that answer real questions on the topic of SEO will bring new SEO clients to Beacon through the SERP as they begin to rank.”
Home in on Your Target Audience
Make sure you understand who your target audience is and what they want, not who you think they are and what you think they want. This is the key difference between a successful SEO strategy and one that falls flat. You can target keywords and build links for days, but if this work is not relevant to the people who might actually use your product or service, it is a lost cause.
Research your ideas about the age, gender, and location demographics of your target audience. Focus on their unique needs and pain points to determine which keywords will be most effective. Take a look at what your successful competitors are doing to reach your target audience and come up with a way to position your product that is both different and superior to the competitors in your niche.
If you do not have a lot of experience in your business or industry, get in front of the people who do. Ask them the right questions to draw out who they think your target audience should be. At Beacon, we work hard to gain a deep understanding of who our clients are and who they serve using a set of questions we call the “Beacon Deep Dive.”
Report on Results
If you are looking for a great SEO reporting tool, SEMRush is something we use at Beacon to get a quick snapshot of how our potential clients and their competitors are ranking. It is one of the most popular SEO reporting tools on the market. No matter what you are doing in your marketing, for SEO or for something else, get a handle on your reporting. Reporting will show you what is working and what is not as well as opportunities for improvement. It is a very important part of a presentable and effective SEO strategy.
Once you have the big-picture SEO trends in mind and your business goals and target audience within grasp, it is time to get to work on your show-stopping SEO strategy.
Plan Your Content
Start with Services
Make a list of the 5-10 primary products or services you are offering. Use Google Adwords’s Keyword Tool to fine-tune your terminology, as in, discover exactly what words your target audience is using to search for your products or services. For example, as a marketing agency, we might use services like, “Digital Marketing,” “Graphic Design,” and “Web Development.”
Create an Editorial Calendar
Using your list of services, create an editorial calendar of 5-10 blogs to write for each one. HubSpot calls these “topic clusters.” These blog topics should be based on long-tail keywords, meaning long-form questions that your target audience types into the search bar rather than short keywords. The reason you should be writing blogs for long-tail keywords rather than short keywords is because short keywords have a lot of competition. Every one of our competitors is writing about “Digital Marketing,” but not everyone is writing about how “Can Traditional Marketing & Digital Marketing Integrate?” You can find long-tail keywords for your services using AnswerthePublic. For example, searching “Digital Marketing” in AnswerthePublic returns the following results.
You can get even more specific with your blog topics by choosing something that speaks very directly to your target audience. For example, at Beacon, we recently wrote an article specifically for functional medicine practices titled “Inbound Marketing Is a Perfect Fit for Functional Medicine!” Articles like these are great for reaching your niche, which is already thinking, “How can X product or service work for me in X situation?”
If you answer all of the questions your target audience has over the course of your blogging, you will begin to grab the same person over and over as they are researching in your topic space. Rarely if ever do users convert on their first visit, rather, they follow the buyer journey…After reading the first blog article, they become aware of who you are, after the second they consider your product, and on their last visit they make their decision to purchase. Multi-visits are something to aim for in an effective SEO strategy.
Prospect for Links
Links to websites are like “recommendations” for people, the more authority the website linking to your blog has, the more credibility Google gives to that recommendation.
Links are just as valuable as ever, but now, quality matters more than quantity, a consistent theme with the Google algorithm as it continues to progress. Incorporate a “sales funnel” for links into your weekly schedule to get inbound links, communicating with clients, partners, vendors, other local businesses and industry thought leaders, asking them to link to your blogs. You may also consider offering to guest blog on other websites, linking back to your blogs, or blogging on current events or news to get noticed. That said, one of the best ways to get links is to write genuinely valuable content that others will link to naturally.
Put your plan into practice. Start blogging. Blogging on a weekly basis does wonders for your SEO. To start, prioritize the business goals, services, and topics that are most important to your company. In each blog, incorporate variations of your long-tail keyword naturally throughout the text 3-5 times for best results. Once you run out of long-tail keywords, begin to think about out-of-the-box ideas, maybe a topic that occurred to you while you were writing, an issue one of your customers recently ran into, a question they commonly ask, or a hot-button topic in your industry. Write with SEO trends in mind, writing long, relevant, comprehensive blogs that engage your readers.
At the End of the Day
The key to winning at SEO is this: Focus on your target audience, where the trends are indicating they search (mobile), what they want, and write good content that gets in front of them in those places. Listening and providing quality are goals that we all should focus on if we are in business to serve our customers. Google does an excellent job at fostering this and they are always trying to do it better. We are in a unique position to raise the bar of the world’s e-commerce experience together. Let’s take full advantage of this.
If you are looking for a partner to help you stay afloat in Google’s algorithm by creating and implementing a show-stopping SEO strategy, we would love to work with you! We have been seeing some incredible results for our blogging clients and we want to share the love. Contact us for a free marketing assessment!