8 steps to create an effective SEO strategy

7 minute read
8 steps to create an effective SEO strategy

The right SEO strategy helps you optimize for search engines so that your content gets seen by potential consumers.

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and an SEO strategy refers to the process of planning and implementing steps to improve your organic search engine rankings. 

Keep in mind that about 68 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. Plus, SEO drives more than 1,000 percent more traffic than organic social media.

Want more organic website traffic? Get your SEO strategy right.

The following are eight steps to create an effective SEO strategy.

Step #1: Audit your current search rankings

Understanding where your current SEO performance stands now is key to identifying what needs to improve so that you can address those needs in your SEO strategy.

Take note of your:

  • Organic website traffic (and where that traffic is coming from), likely through Google Analytics
  • Keyword ranking, which can show how you stack up on particular keywords and which you should be incorporating
  • Backlinks, which are when other websites link to content on your website

Only dig as deep as you’re comfortable doing, but having just a basic understanding of how your website is performing will get your SEO strategy moving in the right direction.

Step #2: Set your goals

Your SEO strategy is going to lose purpose if you’re not specifically targeting a goal. Now that you have a sense of where your SEO performance stands, it’s time to identify where you want it to be in a month, in six months and beyond.

Setting goals increases the success of your marketing strategy by about 429 percent.

Check out our seven tips for setting achievable marketing goals (including for SEO).

Step #3: Create a list of keywords

Keyword research is a big part of an effective SEO strategy. The right keywords can help improve your ranking on search engine results pages, generating more organic traffic to your website.

You can approach this in a more manual way by typing potential keywords into Google Search and then taking note of automated suggestions. But online tools can make this process far more efficient and effective.

Check out these 11 free SEO keyword research tools you should consider.

Step #4: Analyze Google’s first page of search results

Once you have a list of at least 10 SEO keywords that you are relevant to your website content, it’s time to see who is already ranking for those keywords.

All you have to do is type one of your keywords into Google Search. Review all the search results on that first page of Google. Are there any patterns with the formatting of the content or anything else that you notice?

For instance, you might find that most if not all results are listicle-style articles. Lists are very skimmable for the readers, and a great way to make your content more accessible.

Step #5: Plan (and create) quality content

The quality of your content is imperative for every other step of your SEO strategy to be successful. The goal is to stand out from your competition while leaning into your own expertise to share helpful, engaging information that will benefit potential customers in some way. That could be teaching them something new, helping to solve a problem they have or something else.

While anyone can create content, the key is creating engaging content that helps your brand achieve your goals on social media and beyond.

We recommend using an AI-based online tool, such as a paragraph generator or rewording generator. Such tools are trained on advanced AI models which can help you write quality content or rephrase your average content to avoid plagiarism and enhance its effectiveness and overall quality.

Ask yourself what you want your target audience to do when they consume your content. The extra effort to put out great (rather than just good) content is worth it.

Check out our 10 tips for creating engaging content, or consider SEO content creation services.

Step #6: Embrace quality content design

You could have the most incredible content on the internet, but if it looks like a headline with a huge block of text, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Content design is definitely underrated but still extremely important. And while you can invest a lot of money in getting a custom design coded into your website, there are cheap and easy ways to add visual elements into your content to help break up the text and make it all that much more engaging.

Consider using graphs and infographics that visualize any data points you’re referring to, screenshots, other images, and so on.

Learn more about visuals by checking out these six ways visuals can increase email conversions.

Step #7: Boost your backlinks

A top recommendation you’ll likely hear for your SEO strategy (after researching your keywords) is going to be building up your backlinks.

Backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one website to another. About 91 percent of all web pages never get any organic traffic from Google, and that’s mostly due to the fact that they don’t have backlinks. Don’t be one of those pages.

Check out our seven tips to grow quality backlinks and boost your SEO.

Step #8: Review and optimize your on-page SEO

On-page SEO goes beyond just optimizing your content for SEO purposes. Anything you can do on your website to help its search engine rankings is considered on-page SEO.

This includes: 

  • Keywords: Not as important as they used to be, keyword optimization is still typically the first tactic thought of when considering SEO strategy. Make sure you do your research and consider the terms and phrases that potential customers could be searching for in search engines.
  • Meta descriptions: These short descriptions are the summaries that appear as part of your search result to give more context to users (and a shot at compelling them to click). You’ll want to keep each one to no more than 160 characters ideally but still include relevant keywords. Check out these eight tips to write effective meta descriptions.
  • URL structure: Easy-to-understand URLs have two benefits. They help search engines crawl (and then index) your website, while they also lead to more clicks overall. This means that the end of a URL includes words that describe the content (hopefully with a keyword) instead of a string of numbers, for example.
  • Internal linking: Linking to other webpages within your website makes your website that much easier for search engines to crawl. It also keeps your website visitors engaged for longer.
  • Quality content: Remember the goal of search engines—to provide the most relevant search results for every query made. Relevant equates to quality content from you. Your content should answer questions and/or solve problems. You also want your content fresh and skimmable for visitors.
  • Structured content: Speaking of skimmable, this translates into structured content. Make sure you have headings and subheadings with the appropriate tags (H1, H2, etc.) for easy search engine crawling.
  • Title tags: These are the titles of your webpages that you can see on search engine results pages as the clickable result title. Ensure that these are concise, unique and descriptive (with a keyword included).
  • Headings: Similar to title tags but are headling the content on your webpage.
  • Alt text: This is the word or phrase that describes an image file in order for it to be indexed for search engines. It also helps users (who can’t see the image) know what it is about in general.
  • Page security: Enabling Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security technology places you in the “preferred” category of websites by Google. Using SSL means that a third party can’t come between your web server and the user’s web server. This secures the information being exchanged between the two.
  • Page speed and performance: Pages that are slow to load or don’t render correctly will lower your website’s search engine ranking. This is because frustrated users will almost immediately abandon your site, increasing your bounce rate. That is a huge signal to search engines that your website is not a valuable search engine result for users. About 47 percent of users expect a website to load within 2 seconds. Be aware of your mobile optimization and any overuse of CSS or Javascript that can slow your load time down.

Learn more about the difference between on-page and off-page SEO.

In conclusion

Now that you know where you’re at, where you want to be and what you should be looking at to achieve your SEO goals, it’s time to officially set your SEO strategy. 

Be sure to include your goals, with time-bound benchmarks, and regularly scheduled tasks that will help you get closer to those goals. If you discovered that your entire content strategy needs a revamp, tackle that separately, but keep your SEO strategy in mind when you do so.

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