The purpose of an SEO strategy is to help you form an action plan for achieving both your short and long term online goals. If you already have a strategy or if this is something you will create now, the 5 ways outlined below will help you improve it and make it more efficient.
What is a Search Engine Optimization strategy?
In general, when you set goals (business goals, personal goals etc.) you also need to have a plan that describes step-by-step how to achieve your goals. This action plan is your strategy for meeting your targets. Likewise when we talk about the Internet and SEO you need to have specific measurable goals on what you want to achieve online and a search engine optimization strategy will tell you how to get there.
Why it’s important to have an SEO Strategy?
Without an SEO strategy you won’t know if what you are doing is in the right direction. For example you don’t just run Facebook ads for the sake of running ads but this should be part of your overall strategy. Every action you do should be in accordance with your targets otherwise you are just wasting your time and money.
An SEO strategy is necessary for every online property. If you are running a small business online or if you are a solo blogger you need to have in mind a strategy that will help you meet your targets. It doesn’t have to be complicated or too detail but what is more important is to have one.
What are some typical items in an SEO strategy?
A good SEO strategy is tailored to the needs of the particular web property but in general these are some typical items that are part of every strategy (don’t forget that a good SEO strategy is not only about SEO):
Content marketing – Everything starts with good content and your task is not only to publish content but create content that users want to read and share
On-Page SEO – This is now more important than ever and one of the first milestones in your strategic planning. Before doing anything else you have to get on page SEO right and then move to the next items.
Off Page SEO – Link building is not the same as it used to be, but it is still an important ranking factor so you have to learn what you can do and what not to do for getting results
Social media marketing – When you reach to the point that you have great content and a fantastic website, the next obvious step is to utilize the power of social media and distribute your content in the various social media networks.
How to improve your SEO strategy?
Your SEO strategy is not something static, in other words you don’t just ‘set it and forget it’ but it’s a dynamic process that needs fine tuning and control depending on the results produced.
Over the years I have worked with many clients establishing their SEO and Internet marketing strategies and found that some areas need more attention than others. It is also surprising that as we get deeper into SEO we tend to forget the basic rules that’s why it is always suggested to go back and review your strategic plan on a regular basis.
1. Go back to the basics
You should do exactly what the name suggests i.e. go back to the basic SEO rules and work on your titles, descriptions, URL structure and all those items that we consider not important but play a huge role in the end.
From my experience the best way is to use an SEO Audit Checklist that will guide you through the process and produce a clear action plan in the end.
2. Check for manual or algorithmic penalties
One of the possible reasons that your SEO strategy may fail is that external factors cannot let it succeed. To be more specific, if during the lifetime of your domain you have violated any of the Google webmaster guidelines that led to a manual or algorithmic penalty then following your SEO strategy is not enough.
You should first make sure that corrective actions are taken to remove any penalties from your domain and then continue with your long term plan.
For example, if you have being doing link building by purchasing link packages or exchanging links with other webmasters then most probably you were hit by Panda or Penguin and your rankings have dropped. In such cases you should first remove any unnatural links by either asking the other webmasters to remove them or by using the Google disavow tool and then start with SEO again.
3. Start thinking beyond SEO
As already mentioned above, when creating an SEO strategy you should think beyond SEO. The term ‘SEO Strategy’ may be misleading since what we actually mean is setting up an overall Internet marketing strategy or even better a digital marketing strategy.
Try to think of other sources of traffic besides Search engines and other ways to enhance the user experience besides the browser. To give you a real example, part of my SEO strategy in growing caloriesecrets to 250,000 visits per month, was the development of mobile apps (for Windows, Amazon and Android) so as to give my readers another medium to access my content. This action did not only increase my traffic but it also gave me a great opportunity to position my brand in the mobile market as well.
When you think out of the box and invest on alternative sources of traffic you also gain in terms of SEO since the extra visibility and exposure works like a natural link building magnet.
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4. Take a look on your competitors
When you operate in a competitive niche success or failure depends on what your competitors are doing as well. For example let’s say you have a Jewelry shop without an online presence but the shop opposite the street (a jewelry shop as well) has a website and is getting more customers than you because they can find them through the Internet. In this case your competitors are a step ahead and winning over your back.
What I am trying to say is that besides concentrating on building the best possible presence for your company, you should also take a look at what your competitors are doing and make sure that you don’t let them take the lead. If they have an app in the Apple Store then you should make one, if they have thousands of Facebook followers then you should have too, if they hire an SEO to get better results then you should hire an SEO too.
That’s also another reason why you need to have an SEO strategy in the first place. Your strategy needs to take all these factors into account and formulate the best possible path to out pass your competitors.
5. Try to increase engagement with your content
Last but not least, user engagement. Search engines and social media networks are looking for websites that users like to engage with. These websites are more likely to appear higher in the search engine results pages and when searching though the various social networks.
When we talk about engagement we mean comments, Facebook likes, +1s, Tweets, social media shares and anything else that indicates that the content of a website is interesting and sharable.
Assuming that your content is good, some ways to increase engagement are:
- Ask users to comment on your posts
- Always reply to user comments and encourage them to do so
- Promote your posts after your publish them
- Run a ‘Q and A’ session on social media so that users can ask you questions and you can provide them with an answer in the form of a new post on your website
- Offer incentives to encourage user comments – Users who enter a valid comment can enter a draw to win a price
- Make sure that social media sharing buttons are visible while users are viewing your pages and posts
- Advertise – You can use Facebook ads, Twitter promoted tweets or Google Adwords to get your content in front of more users. This may be really useful in the beginning until you get your own tribe of loyal visitors.
Having an SEO strategy is like using a GPS to take you from point A to point B. In this case point A is your starting point and point B is what you want to achieve online. Each SEO strategy is different and depends on the type of business (website), what the competition is doing, the complexity of the niche and availability of budget and resources.
Some common items to find in any strategy are: content marketing, SEO (both on-page and off-page) and social media marketing.
From my experience some items that can improve your overall SEO strategy and give you better results are:
- Ensuring that you’ve got the basics covered
- No external factors are holding you back
- Your strategy covers other areas and not just pure SEO
- You know what your competitors are doing
- You always try to improve the user experience
Finally, for any project or strategic plan to be successful it needs to have proper monitoring and control. Part of your responsibilities is to review your strategy on a regular basis, analyze the results, identify the failure and successes and take correction actions until you reach your final targets.