According to almost half the marketers surveyed by Search Engine Journal, organic search has the best return on investment compared to any other channel. A whopping 53% of US consumers reported searching for a product online before making a purchase decision, according to Google.
So, whether you like it or not, you have to get your head in the SEO game. If you don’t, you’re making a conscious choice to skip out on more traffic – and more potential customers flocking to your website.
But how do you ace search engine optimization? Here’s one word for you: strategy. And if you have no idea where to start, don’t worry: experts from paper writing service WritePaper have you covered. They’ve compiled seven key steps in developing an SEO strategy – let’s break them down.
1. Identify Your Topics, Pillar Pages, & Keywords
You might be thinking developing an SEO strategy is the same as finding the right keywords, but the reality is a bit more complicated than that. Here’s what you should do:
- Identify your main topics. Don’t hesitate to use universal terms and stick to one or two words here. For example, if you sell sneakers, your topics will be ‘sneakers’ and ‘shoes’. These will be your short-tail keywords.
- Determine topic clusters. Go beyond your product and think about your target audience’s interests, problems, and hobbies. For example, if you sell leather shoes, your customer is likely to google how to care for them.
- Add more specific key phrases to each topic. The more specific they are, the easier it is to compete for the first-page ranking. They should include the short-tail keyword and be more specific.
Where can you find the keywords? Here are some tools you can go for:
- Keyword Overview Tool and Keyword Magic Tool (Semrush);
- Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner;
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer;
- Ubersuggest (Neil Patel).
2. Spy on Your Competitors a Bit
Take your long-tail keywords and google them. Take a look at the first-page results, open the links and look through the content. What do they have in common? Remember to think in terms of:
- Format (listicle, how-to guide, etc.);
- Size (long- or short-form);
- Links in the text;
- Visuals and other media.
Don’t hesitate to take cues from high-ranking pages. After all, if it works for them, why not use it to your advantage, too?
3. Determine the Metrics You’ll Track
No strategy can be efficient without goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). So, don’t forget to set concrete goals (e.g., ‘Increase organic traffic by 15% in three months’) – and determine how you’re going to track your progress.
This is where KPIs come in – these metrics will tell you how close you are to your goal. Here are nine metrics that specialists take into account the most often:
- Domain authority (or domain rating);
- Text readability score;
- Click-through rate (CTR);
- Organic visibility (or organic market share);
- Organic traffic;
- Organic conversions;
- Pages visited;
- Bounce rate.
4. Review Your Existing Content
If you’ve been running a website for a while, review existing pages and sort them into one of the following categories:
You can choose to update some pages if they’re outdated or lack certain relevant keywords. They can also be improved to target other, more valuable keywords.
Pages that compete with your other content for the same ranking should be deleted or at least merged. The same goes for the pages that hold no value and can’t be salvaged.
5. Create a Content Calendar
Once you have your keywords, it’s time to think about the content itself. Keep in mind: its quality matters the most. It determines whether your page will be shared, linked to, and found relevant by Google’s crawler.
Focus on creating evergreen content. It’s the type of content that remains relevant throughout the year and isn’t related to any current events or particular holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc.).
Why should you focus on it? It’s regularly searched for – so, the inflow of user traffic will be consistent, too.
What’s the content calendar, though? In a nutshell, it’s your publishing schedule with dates and topics. It’ll help you manage content creation, whether you outsource it or keep it in-house.
6. Don’t Forget About Links
Links are still crucial when it comes to ranking, and backlinks are what you should focus on here. In a nutshell, backlinks are links to your content. Google’s logic is simple here: the more links lead to your page, the more valuable it must be.
How do you boost the number of your backlinks? Here are just three tactics you can use:
- Create awesome content. It has to be unique and have that ‘wow’ effect. How-to articles, ultimate guides, and data-driven pieces usually get more backlinks than other types of content.
- Get into guest posting. This means you’ll write a blog post for another website containing a link to your page(s). The tradeoff is simple: the website owner gets free content, and you get more backlinks.
- Write comments. Go to Quora, YouTube, Reddit, etc. and participate in discussions there – and add links to your website where appropriate. Be relevant, though: otherwise, your comment might get marked as spam.
7. Revisit Your Strategy Regularly
You can’t expect to get every aspect of your strategy right on the first try. It’ll be based on certain assumptions – and they may turn out to be false. So, make sure to schedule a review of your SEO strategy every month or so.
The best way to assess what works and what doesn’t is by looking at the metrics you’ve chosen as KPIs. To be efficient at that, make it a habit to create monthly reports with all the data in one place. They can be as simple as a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel!
Let’s do a quick recap of the seven steps in developing any SEO strategy:
- Determine your general topics, as well as short-tail and long-tail keywords.
- Analyze what high-ranking pages have in common – and use it.
- Identify your goals and key performance indicators you’ll be tracking.
- Take stock of your existing content and how it can be optimized.
- Make a content calendar and get to creating the content itself.
- Include link-building in your strategy.
- Schedule SEO reports and strategy reviews every month.
Looks overly complicated? Don’t worry! Of course, if it’s your first time devising an SEO strategy, it’ll take you a while to get all the ins and outs of it. But there’s nothing impossible about mastering all of this on your own!