A good wish can never push your rankings to the top of organic listings—you need a strategy.
Of course, it feels good to be on the first page of Google. But more than that, you also get 95% more organic traffic. Statistics show that organic results get as much as 95% search traffic while ads only receive 5% traffic.
Only a powerful SEO strategy can help you drive massive search traffic. Ads don’t stand a chance.
In the rest of this in-depth article, I’ll show you the 7-step process you need when designing your SEO strategy. For further detailed information on the content below feel free to check out blogs from a preeminent SEO company in Atlanta (if you live in the Southeast) such as Cardinal or Click Ready Marketing.
Let’s get right in…
1. Define your goals
Every strategy starts with defining clear objectives and goals. Your SEO strategy should not be different. Ask yourself this basic question:
What do I want to achieve at the end of the day?
In this case, your goal is to increase search traffic, fine. But how much traffic do you need?
Do you need 100 daily visitors?
Do you need 100K monthly visitors?
Do you want to increase organic traffic by 50%?
Define clear goals. Increase in search traffic is not an effective goal. You won’t be able to measure the progress of your goal because even if you get 5 new visitors a week that will count as an increase in search traffic.
The best goals are SMART goals. Your goal should be:
2. Identify the right keywords
SEO begins with finding the right keywords that your audience uses to find you in the search engines.
Your job is to identify multiple keywords that your ideal customers input into the search engine. The best tool you can use is Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
Click Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
Enter keyword and click on “Get ideas.”
Then click on Ad group ideas tab to see ad groups with their relative monthly searches and competition. Not that the competition is only relevant to Google AdWords advertisers only.
While identifying keywords to rank for, you should choose long-tail keywords too as these are some of the easiest keywords to rank for.
You can find long-tail keywords at the end of the Google search results page. These related searches give you a nice idea of what people are actually searching for and what keywords they use.
3. Identify competitors
Google Keyword Planner and other third-party tools can give you tens of thousands of keywords. However, choosing the right keywords for your campaign can be challenging at times.
That’s where your competitors can help you.
Identify your top 5 competitors from search results pages. Websites that rank over and over for most of the chosen keywords are your primary competitors.
Once you’ve identified your competitors, you can see what they are doing and what keywords they are targeting. You can do so with the help of SpyFu.
Enter the URL of your competitor and hit “Enter” on your keyboard.
Click SEO Keywords to see the complete list of keywords your competitor is targeting.
You can choose keywords that your competitors are targeting.
Repeat same for all the other four competitors and refine your target keywords accordingly.
4. Create content
It’s time to create content based on your keywords, while addressing the “user intent” for that given keyword.
If you want to rank for any keyword, write the best content on the same keyword— better than your competitors.
Don’t take shortcuts when creating your content. Scraped or fluff content won’t take you far. This is what everyone else is doing out there. You have to spend time in research, sourcing credible data, and producing irresistible content.
I personally love storytelling for content creation since it has the magic to turn the tables. Alibaba started using storytelling in 2012 and that’s where it turned out to be a massive hit.
Other techniques to blow your readers with content include:
Guides and how-to articles
Videos and podcasts
You don’t have to focus too much on quantity of the articles you write but on quality. A single awesome blog post a month is far better than 10 sub-standard blog posts a month.
5. Promote content
“Publish and pray technique” doesn’t work anymore.
What does this mean?
This means that even if you have the best content (10x better than your competitors) on your blog on any given keyword, if you don’t promote it—you won’t get too far.
You have to show your content to your target audience and influencers. This is how you’ll position yourself as an authority and that’s how you’ll acquire natural backlinks—the backbone of SEO.
The purpose of content promotion isn’t just acquiring backlinks (I’ll discuss more on this in the next step) but the purpose here is to establish yourself as an authority and build relationships.
Acquiring backlinks is one way to promote your content, there are several other ways to promote it such as:
Social media marketing
6. Build relevant backlinks
This is the crux of your SEO strategy. No matter what you have been told, backlinks are still the most important ranking factor.
If you have followed all the rules from Step 1 to Step 5, acquiring relevant backlinks won’t be an issue.
But if you try to skip any previous step or if you somehow manage to take a ‘shortcut’, you’ll find it extremely hard to acquire backlinks naturally at this step.
Here’s the deal:
If you have awesome content that’s better than everything else that’s already published out there on ‘that specific keyword’, people will link to your content because it’s helpful.
It’s that simple.
No rocket science.
Your job is to reach out to people who have already linked to a similar type of content in the past, show them your content, and ask for a backlink courteously.
Brian Dean calls it the Skyscraper technique. It’s one of the best ways to acquire backlinks naturally.
Here are some natural ways to build awesome high-quality backlinks that Google will love.
7. Track and measure progress
What type of keywords are doing better?
Which keywords are driving more organic traffic?
What type of content acquires more backlinks?
Which type of backlinks have the highest correlation with rankings?
You have to find answers to these questions by tracking and measuring your SEO strategy.
If you’re not seeing results—tweak and re-test.
Designing an SEO strategy is not a one-time process. You have to constantly find new keywords, create more content, and build backlinks.
The moment you stop tweaking it, someone else will take your position in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs).