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In order to have a good content marketing strategy, you need to consider your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and build an effective SEO strategy. An SEO strategy optimizes your website in order for it to show up higher on a search engine’s results page and gain more organic traffic. Understanding what goes into an SEO strategy and how to effectively use it makes it easier to market your brand and content. This article defines what an SEO strategy is, why you should use it and how to implement one at your organization.

What Is an SEO Strategy?

An SEO strategy refers to the planning of steps to increase a website’s ranking on search engines. Also known as an SEO approach or an SEO plan, an SEO strategy aims to generate more organic leads to your website by listing your site higher in a search engine’s search results. When you understand your target audience and develop an SEO strategy that takes your audience into consideration, the more marketable your website will be.

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To create a well-rounded SEO strategy, you need to focus on various ranking factors. Using different types of SEO in conjunction gives your website the marketability it needs to succeed on the web. Here’s a look at some of the various types of SEO:

On-page SEO

On-page SEO relates to your website’s “on-the-page” content. It includes strategies that work to optimize a website in an effort to increase its position in search engines based on its specific keywords. Keyword research, content creation and keyword optimization all make up this type of SEO.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO focuses on the relationship between your website and other websites on the internet. These techniques include strategies to improve a website’s reputation and reliability. To do the latter, off-page SEO aims to use high-quality backlinks or links that go to your site from authoritative websites that show your website’s value and trust.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO centers on the backend and infrastructure of your website as opposed to the actual content. It helps search engines understand websites by improving the website’s overall readability. Essentially, search engines examine the code on a website and use it to influence the website’s placement in a search engine’s result rankings. Some SEO that falls into this category includes indexing, crawlability, and site architecture.

Who Implements an SEO Strategy?

Various individuals within a company’s marketing department implement the organization’s SEO strategy. When it comes to SEO, there are several specific job titles that use SEO throughout their workday. Typically, the bigger the organization, the more specialized the roles. Here’s a look at two of the common roles that use SEO on a daily basis, as well as their primary duties:

  • SEO analyst: SEO analysts focus on data and the actual implementation of an SEO strategy. Based on their analysis, they provide guidance and provide solutions to help improve a website’s search ranking.
  • SEO manager: SEO managers oversee SEO implementation and have a more people-focused role compared to SEO analysts. SEO managers look at the bigger picture and help implement an SEO strategy that involves a company’s other departments. They also communicate SEO principles and possibilities to the company and measure results.

 

When Should You Use an SEO Strategy?

Use an SEO strategy when you want to increase traffic to your website, gain the attention of your target audience, and drive sales. Keep in mind that when you aim to increase your traffic, SEO helps you find organic traffic, in particular. This refers to traffic that doesn’t come from a paid advertisement. Organic traffic ensures readers continuously visit your website with intent, which can widen your target audience and improve customer retention.

While it’s important to implement an SEO strategy for these reasons, you also need to maintain your prospective customers’ attention by having content that provides solutions to their problems. Doing so ensures they revisit your website in the future. Therefore, aim to use an SEO strategy when you’re prepared to make the changes to both your content and for your organization.

Where Is an SEO Strategy Used?

A variety of industries use SEO strategies to improve their businesses. Though all industries can use an SEO strategy, certain types of businesses will see a bigger influence with its implementation. Here are some industries and businesses that can benefit from an SEO strategy:

Small Businesses

Small businesses refer to privately-owned companies with fewer employees than regular-sized businesses or corporations. Since they often have smaller budgets, they typically can’t afford paid advertisements. An SEO strategy provides them with an affordable way to attract business. Not only is it cost-effective, but it can also help expand a small business’s online presence and potentially drive sales. In addition, it can help them retain customers and positively influence their growth.

Startups

A startup refers to a company that works toward creating a solution for a problem whose success has yet to be guaranteed. Like small businesses, startups don’t often have a large budget to work with at inception. Implementing an SEO strategy is an affordable way to grow their customer base and revenue. With an increase in revenue and a larger budget, they’re better equipped to grow their overall business into the future.

Software As a Service (SaaS) Companies

SaaS companies refer to businesses that use software to give their online customers a particular service. Since these companies are digital, they don’t rely on traditional advertising methods. A well-executed SEO strategy helps SaaS companies target individuals looking for solutions they can solve on their website.

For example, if someone is looking for a particular solution you provide, it’s important that your SaaS company is one of the top—if not the No. 1 spot—in a search engine’s result rankings to grow your business. This provides your company with organic, online visibility without the use of paid advertisements.

Real Estate Companies

When individuals seek a new home or dwelling, the internet may be one of the first places they look. Agents and real estate teams can greatly benefit from the use of an SEO strategy by targeting individuals in their surrounding areas.

For example, when house hunters search for a new place online, they’re given a results page with various real estate companies. If you have a real estate business in Orlando, FL, a good SEO strategy would ensure that your company ranks high in search result rankings when Orlando house hunters look for a new home.

Pet Service Companies

Many pet owners search online for pet groomers, dog walkers, or other pet-servicing companies. Companies in the pet service industry can use an SEO strategy to optimize their website and gain viewership from local pet owners. As with any industry, It’s important for pet service companies to have an optimized website and online presence that makes them stand out among their competitors.

Local Companies

Local companies often receive a main source of their income from their own community or town. To keep customers coming into your store or onto your website, it’s important to maintain a strong online presence as a local company. An effective SEO strategy leads to a steady revenue and loyal target audience, ensuring that customers come to your local store instead of somewhere out of the area.

Medical Practices

Medical professionals use an SEO strategy to earn the business of patients in their area. An optimized website ensures local patients in need of medical care can find their services. Some medical service offices that should use an SEO strategy include dental practices, doctor’s offices, and local clinics.

Online Companies

Since online businesses don’t have a physical storefront, it’s crucial to have an SEO strategy since their website is their sole method for driving sales. When they create an SEO strategy, they’re essentially coming up with ideas to expand their online presence and compete with other online businesses or with businesses that have both a website and physical storefront.

Restaurants

Restaurants can use an SEO strategy to entice customers and local patrons to their establishment. If you’re searching online for a burger restaurant in your town, for example, a variety of relevant restaurants may come up in the search results. It’s likely that you’ll want to visit one of the first search results rather than one from another search page, or better yet, visit a restaurant that’s out of your region. To retain those top spots on a search page, restaurants and bars need to develop and implement an effective SEO strategy. Doing so helps them become a staple in their community.

Multi-location Companies

If your company has more than one location, it’s important to have an SEO strategy that ensures customers know about your various locations. Multi-location companies can also use an SEO strategy when they want to advertise a particular deal at only one of their locations. This helps customers know where they can take advantage of the sale.

Legal Businesses

Law offices and firms need to rank high in local web searches to expand their client roster. It’s likely that people wanting legal advice or assistance look for legal counsel in their surrounding area. Through the use of proper keywords and a well-rounded SEO strategy, a legal professional’s website can more effectively target its prospective clients.

Maintenance and Home Improvement Businesses

As with other types of businesses, maintenance and home improvement businesses benefit from an SEO strategy because it helps them gain visibility in their particular area. Essentially, ranking higher in the search results lets them target local individuals who are seeking help regarding home repairs and maintenance.

Why Are SEO Strategies Used?

An SEO strategy is used to increase organic online traffic to your website more effectively and in an affordable manner. Here are some of the main reasons why companies use SEO strategies for their business:

Greater Affordability

Whereas you need to continuously pay for advertising in order to grow your audience, a strong SEO strategy and quality content lets you grow your traffic affordably. You can implement an SEO strategy yourself free of charge, or hire an SEO strategist to improve your efforts. Either of these options may be more cost-effective than spending money on digital or print advertisements.

Quality, Organic Traffic

Highly targeted, organic traffic is one of the main benefits of developing an SEO strategy. As opposed to traditional advertising channels that reach out to consumers whether they have an interest in doing business with you or not, an SEO strategy focuses on inbound marketing tactics that are more customer-centric. In other words, it focuses on creating helpful resources for prospective customers who are actively looking for information, products, or services you provide without the use of paid advertisements.

Public Relations (PR) Benefits

Though SEO and PR refer to separate marketing strategies, they can also work in conjunction to produce better results. While SEO professionals identify opportunities for coverage on a variety of publications or websites, PR professionals aim to get prominent and reputable publications talking about your company. Getting links from reputable websites and content syndication, in general, can help your brand gain attention from a variety of consumers, therefore, effectively distributing your content to both customers and clients. At the end of the day, having both PR and SEO work together presents many advantages that include growing the business overall.

What Types of Keywords Should You Use for an SEO Strategy?

Keywords are the main focus of SEO since they affect how search engines index your website and its pages. Before you create a list of relevant keywords, it’s important to understand the various types of keywords you need to convert. Here are some keyword types to consider regarding the implementation of SEO strategies:

Short-tail Keywords

Also known as generic keywords, short-tail keywords refer to those that are short in length, typically 1-3 words long. Since they render many search results, it makes it harder for companies to rank high on search page results. For example, if you were to use the short-tail keyword “cookie recipe,” you would have a lot of competition for landing a spot on the first page of a search engine’s search results for this keyword since many other websites have related content and are competing for the same words.

Mid-tail Keywords

Mid-tail keywords have a little more specificity than short-term keywords. Mid-tail keywords are typically 2-3 words in length, have a moderate amount of competition, and provide a decent-sized volume of traffic to a website. Going off of the example above, a mid-tail keyword would be “cookie recipe for vegans.” This provides added specificity not found in the short-tail keyword version. While this mid-tail keyword won’t generate as many results as the short-tail keyword, it still renders a large number of hits on a search engine result page.

Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are over three words in length and, therefore, more detailed than short-tail keywords. For example, a long-tail keyword can be an entire sentence as opposed to one or two words. Because long-tail keywords are longer than short- or mid-tail keywords, it makes it easier for companies to rank higher on search engine results when they use this type of keyword. An example of a long-tail keyword would be “semi-sweet chocolate chip cookie for vegans.” This is much more specific than the short- and mid-tail keyword examples above and, therefore, far less competitive on the web.

Short-term Fresh Keywords

Short-term fresh keywords are short and have a high conversion rate. Consumers can easily find content related to this type of keyword given the rise in popularity of a certain topic. For example, if there’s a recently released movie, the search volume surrounding a related keyword would peak during the relevant period when the movie came out and eventually drop off after so many weeks have passed. In other words, it’s only “fresh” for a certain period of time.

Long-term Evergreen Keyword

Long-term evergreen keywords are relevant all the time, despite having a slight fluctuation in search volume. For example, a keyword of this nature is relevant the minute you publish something and will remain so for years to come. These keywords provide you with consistent viewership, though, not necessarily explosive views on your website.

Broad-match Keywords

SEO marketers use this type of keyword to target a specific item or content that a consumer is looking for. They often have moderate competition and a decent click-through rate. This means that while your website may receive good traffic, it may not receive the highest viewership compared to other keywords. Because of the stronger opportunity broad-match keywords provide compared to general keywords, they’re more highly used for good performance.

How to Build an SEO Strategy

The SEO strategy you use is highly dependent on your target audience and your industry. Therefore, businesses need to optimize their SEO strategy to fit the needs of their individual company. This ensures the content reaches the right audience. Despite these specifications, there are some steps you can take to ensure you’re on the right track when building an SEO strategy. Here’s a 16-step, in-depth process to help you create an effective SEO strategy for any business:

1. Perform an Initial Analysis

Before you build an SEO strategy, assess the current state of your website. Determine ways to improve it by clicking through every section. It’s also important to consider what your target audience would get out of a visit to your website and what you can do to help them stay longer. In addition, determine if the current keywords you’re using and the content you’re housing are helping your search engine rankings. If not, make adjustments as needed.

2. Consider Your Competition

View your competitors’ websites to determine what is or what isn’t working for them. If you see something on their website that you think could drive views when implemented on your end, consider how you can modify their tactic for your own use.

3. Get Outside Advice

Apart from assessing the website yourself, seek advice from a third party or an outside consultant. This points out your website’s strengths and weaknesses and helps determine how to increase SEO across the board. Some things a third party may analyze include the following:

  • Header tags.
  • Website structure.
  • Content quality.
  • Content length.
  • Content updates.
  • Internal and external linking.
  • Metadata.

4. Identify Your SEO Goals

Before implementing an SEO strategy, consider what you want to improve on your website overall. This can include various factors such as more impressions, added links, increased social media activity, and more organic traffic. As you develop and review your SEO strategy, keep these factors in mind to better evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy. Doing so allows you to make adjustments as needed to achieve better results.

5. Make a List of Topics and Keywords

When you develop an SEO strategy, use a variety of keywords to widen your reach. You can use a mixture of keywords such as short-tail, long-tail, and short-term fresh keywords to better your chances of getting a top-ranking position on a search engine’s results page. Start by creating a list of topics and keywords you plan to use for your content. To help you decide on keywords to use, use the following tips:

Understand the Keywords your Target Audience Uses

To create an effective SEO strategy, understand what keywords your target audience is using to reach your website. For example, if they want help solving a problem, they can search for a specific word or phrase to find a solution. To help them find that solution, you need to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and consider how they might phrase their dilemma.

Use a Variety of Keywords

Because people search for different keywords, using different words or phrases will help you land a greater number of views on your website. For example, one user may search for “tips for working from home,” while another might search for “remote job tips.” While both technically mean the same thing and both users may be looking for the same content, they may get different search results. Make sure to cover your content from all keyword angles.

Research Relevant Keywords

To determine the best strategy for your business, research keywords relevant to your company. The keywords you select should be ones you want one of your webpages to rank in the search results for. For example, if you use the keyword “self-driving car” for a page, this means you want the search engine to rank that page when users search for that specific keyword. To research relevant keywords for your business, consider the following methods:

  • Use an online tool. An online tool can recommend keywords to help your SEO. You can find many tools online to help you narrow down your search.
  • Research your competitors. View your competitors’ websites and determine which keywords they’re using most often. This will help you identify any words or phrases you haven’t used.
  • Brainstorm with your co-workers. Collaborate with others in your company to determine the best keywords to use when building your SEO strategy. This helps you think of words you hadn’t previously considered. It may also help you determine phrases that have a better chance of ranking higher in search results. For example, while you may suggest one keyword, a co-worker may offer a similar keyword that could end up generating more organic traffic. Brainstorming with others gives you a new perspective and a fresh set of eyes.

Consider the Keyword Length

As you make a list of topics and keywords, keep in mind the length of the keywords you use and how they translate into viewership. For example, long-tail keywords tend to be less competitive than shorter keywords or phrases. Therefore, though more people are apt to search for shorter keywords or phrases, you may have a great chance of ranking higher with a long-tail keyword since it likely won’t generate as many search results that you have to compete with. This can result in more clicks and views on your website, as well as a higher conversion rate.

6. Analyze Your Website

As you develop your SEO strategy, take a hard look at your website through an SEO lens to help you determine what you’re working with. Consider your content, your website’s performance, how many links you’re using, and any social media you’ve utilized. Based on your findings, determine your website’s problem areas. Keep in mind that this will be different for every company. Whereas some companies may need to improve their linking, others may need to increase their content quality or quantity.

7. Determine Minimal Changes You Can Make

Determine if there are any quick fixes you can make to increase your SEO. Look for coding errors, misspellings, missing alt tags, and other errors you may have overlooked. While this step can be a lengthy process depending on how many fixes you need to make, it’s ultimately rewarding if it results in a higher ranking on search engine results pages.

8. Create Quality Content

Search engines rank websites based on the quality of their content. Because of this, it’s important to create valuable content that your target audience will want to read—preferably repeatedly. In a similar sense, it’s important to provide content continuously to keep your SEO high. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind as you create content to drive viewership:

Stand Out From Competitors

Create content that’s different or better than what your competitors are providing your target audience. When you create unique content, it gives you a greater chance of becoming the sole website that your audience refers to when they’re searching for a particular topic. Consider what your customers or viewers might want to see and find ways to explore topics from a unique angle.

If you can’t think of a unique angle for a topic, consider expanding on an idea and providing a more comprehensive piece than the original or than your competitor’s piece on the same topic. More often than not, readers will click your website over your competitors if your content has more information for them to digest and help them better understand the topic. For example, if your competitor has a list of the 10 best small towns in America, aim to create a list of at least 11 of the best small towns in America.

Use Keywords Consistently and Naturally

As you create content, make sure your keywords flow seamlessly and don’t seem redundant. Don’t overstuff your content with keywords that can overwhelm the piece. Doing this can negatively affect your search ranking and raise a flag with search engine bots. Weaving keywords into your content organically also helps the readability of your content and makes it more appealing to readers.

9. Consider Your Content’s URL

Consider the URL for every one of your webpages. Aim to use short and simple URLs that your viewers or consumers can remember. Long and complicated URLs reduce the chances of your audience returning to your website. For example, if you have a blog post about the best spring looks, a strategic URL would be “blog/best-spring-looks.” Center the URL around the most appropriate keywords for the content.

10. Use Strong and Relevant Page Titles

Your webpages need to have engaging and interesting titles to retain viewership. A strong title also lets readers know what the content is about right away, reducing the chances of them bouncing to another website shortly after visiting yours.

In addition, a strong title can increase your reader’s chances of reading through the entirety of your content. When you create a page title, consider the benefit and value your content holds for them. Make it attention-grabbing, concise, and straight to the point.

11. Improve User Experience

Quality user experiences across various devices aid your overall viewership. Because of this, it’s important that your users can easily navigate your webpages. When you have a website that’s easy to navigate, it increases the chances of users clicking on your other content links. Make sure every link goes to where it should and that all links work properly. In addition, make sure the text and images are where they should be. When you have an easy-to-use website, you have a better chance of your customers staying on your page and returning in the future.

12. Enhance Your Website’s Design

Along with a quality user experience, your website needs to be aesthetically pleasing. Consider a clean template or layout that doesn’t distract from your content. In addition, you can also use photo, graphics, or illustrations to provide your content with a visual aid.

Some visual aids you can use include graphs, high-resolution photo galleries, and illustrations. These elements can also make it easier for readers to understand large data sets. If you need help when it comes to your website’s design, consider hiring a web designer or graphic designer to look over your website and provide helpful tips.

13. Get Backlinks

To increase your search engine ranking, it’s important to consider backlinks. Also known as inbound links or incoming links, backlinks refer to links that go from one website to another and increase your viewership. Consider what your competition links to and what that linked webpage houses.

For example, let’s say you have a food blog and a competing blog wrote a vegetarian chili post that contains links to several statistical health benefits related to the chili’s ingredients. When people read this post, they’ll have to click several links to get the full statistical figures. If you were to write a similar post, aim to create a post that contains datasets and statistical figures without the use of links. When you do this, not only does it help viewers stay on your website longer, but it also increases your chances of other websites linking to your post because of the statistical data you provided. Essentially, it can increase your website’s backlinks.

14. Increase On-Page SEO

Next, work on your website’s on-page SEO with internal linking, short URLs that use your keywords, and SEO-optimized content centered on specific topics. Here is a more in-depth look at how to do this:

  • Internal links: These links go from one webpage to another on the same domain. When you add internal links to your content, it’s important to link to content that adds value and authority to the page with the link.
  • Short URLs with relevant keywords: Keep your URLs concise and perhaps, with just the relevant keyword itself. For example, if you’re writing a news article with a keyword of  “new museums in San Francisco,” you can improve your on-page SEO page with a URL such as “website.com/new-museums-San-Francisco.”
  • Semantic SEO: Semantic SEO refers to content optimized for topics rather than just keywords. It aims to use more meaningful, related words throughout your content. For example, if you’re using the keyword “healthcare jobs,” input this phrase into a search engine. Some search engines will display related topics to the phrase you searched for. Because of this, it’s important to use related terms throughout your content to better optimize your on-page SEO.

15. Assess Search Intent

When your target audience uses a search engine, they may be looking for a specific type of content such as a list or a photo gallery. Search for the main keyword in one of your articles and view what your competitors are doing. Then, create content or rework your existing content to match the search intent.

For example, let’s say you search for the top places to visit in Mexico. A search engine results page may show links to several websites with lists centered around this topic. If most of the high-ranking searches use a list, make sure you offer web users a list, too.  Doing this helps increase your ranking for the targeted keyword.

16. Update Old Content

Though it’s important to create new content with relevant keywords, you also need to update your old content with relevant keywords. Doing this ensures all of the content on your website effectively plays its role in your SEO strategy.

Tips for Your SEO Strategy

Beyond the general steps of creating an SEO strategy, consider various ways to boost your strategy’s effectiveness. If you need additional help in developing a strong SEO strategy, consider the following tips:

  • Use reputable outbound links. Apart from getting other websites to link to your website, consider linking to relevant websites that offer resources for your readers. Not only does this help your SEO, but it also makes your content more trustworthy. For example, when you link to a website showing data to back up your claims, it makes your own content more reputable. Make sure the content you’re linking to comes from a trusted source.
  • Create comprehensive content. Creating comprehensive content can help improve your SEO. It does this by increasing the likelihood of other websites linking to your content, therefore, increasing your views. For example, if you write an in-depth blog post on the best places to get food in Charleston, another blog may link to your post when they briefly mention food spots in South Carolina. This allows their viewers to click your link on their website, giving them even more information then they had when looking at the other blog’s content.
  • Optimize your images. Consider both the file format and size for every image you use. While it’s important to use high-quality images, make sure they’re not too large as this can slow your page loading time and hurt your ranking. Resize or compress all of your images.
  • Name your images using target keywords. Apart from using your target keywords in your content, use them to name your images. For example, if you have a clothing store, rather than naming an image as “dark jeans,” you can name it as “best dark jeans for fall.” You can also use your keywords in your photo captions and descriptions.

Overall, an SEO strategy gives brands and companies an affordable way to market their products, services, or content. Though all companies can implement an SEO strategy, specializing it to fit your particular business ensures its success and overall effectiveness.

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