These days, some of the best strategies in business are the back-to-basics approaches. SEO is one of the most talked-about topics online, and the plethora of information can be overwhelming and confusing. Understanding the basics of SEO can help businesses figure out what they truly need to focus on and develop effective strategies moving forward.
I view these four items as the basis of any great SEO strategy.
1. Research And Planning
Defining keywords, or identifying what your customers are searching for online, can inform the foundation of your strategy. Even if you have no prior SEO knowledge, you can come up with keywords by thinking about what you want to be associated with or searching for competitors online.
We use tools like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer extensively during the SEO research phase. This helps us identify the best keywords for clients by suggesting related search terms and indicating valuable metrics such as search volume and keyword difficulty. This data tells us how competitive we need to be as we come up with the best SEO strategy. Search volume tells us how popular a particular keyword is, while keyword difficulty indicates how hard it will be to rank for that term based on the current rankings of competitor sites. Some keywords with a high keyword difficulty are not worth trying for, and others will require more competitive optimization strategies, including a higher landing page word count and more aggressive link building.
Google’s Keyword Planner, Moz Pro and SEOquake are some additional tools we’ve used for keyword research.
When it comes to keywords, incorporating long-tail keywords can improve the authority of your site and help you target new audiences. Long-tail keywords are highly specific search terms. Some of these will appear as related search terms within your SEO research tool, and others can be found by browsing the related searches at the bottom of any Google results page or exploring Google’s autocomplete results.
2. Website Optimization
Optimizing your website is your opportunity to apply the findings from your research. Typically, your homepage should center around the most important keyword for your business, while other landing pages can incorporate more targeted search terms.
Incorporate keywords in several ways on every optimized page on your website. Include the keyword in your meta titles and descriptions, but also make sure they’re engaging and compelling because these are what will appear on search engines when someone types in your keyword. Also include the keyword in your URL, and be concise and logical.
Well-written content is of paramount importance to any SEO strategy. Not only should your site structure include H1 and H2 headings optimized with keywords, but aim to make the content itself engaging and informative. Google rewards websites that offer the most value to visitors, and one of the most significant markers for this is content.
3. Off-Site Optimization
Off-site optimization refers to any efforts that don’t directly relate to your website, including guest blogging and establishing backlinks (link building) on other high-authority sites.
Link building is one of the most time-consuming SEO strategies, but also one of the most effective. Even a website that is perfectly optimized will often appear below a competitor that is actively engaging in building links through guest blogging and other efforts.
Guest blogging involves publishing original content on other sites with high authority. I recommend establishing a catalog of websites that you can submit guest blog posts to. This process involves performing extensive research into the specific requirements of the sites you’d like to be published on and the type of traffic they receive. This can start with something as simple as a Google search.
Once you find a handful of websites that fit your brand, spend some time exploring to see whether your content might be a good fit before following the guest blogging directions or reaching out to editors. Connecting with the sites via social media is another way to establish a rapport.
SEO is a dynamic field, and developing a successful strategy may require some tweaking along the way. You can use Ahrefs, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and other tools to help track rankings and identify the gaps in your strategy.
SEO is typically a slow process, and you shouldn’t expect to soar to the No. 1 spot right away. However, tracking and analyzing your progress offers insight into whether your strategy is on the right track.
The ins and outs of SEO are often complicated, but the basics are simple. I began my business by wondering whether I could help companies grow by using the web, and SEO is one of the most effective methods I’ve found to do just that. Integrating effective SEO with other digital marketing tools and techniques has resulted in growth for my business and my clients’ businesses, and I know it can do the same for you.
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