New websites are built everyday. Each and every one of them are built with at least a purpose and most people will use search engines to find these new websites. If a website is not optimized enough to compete with others, it may as well disappear into the vast amount of websites that aim for fame.
A good SEO strategy is the difference between your business easily being found online and getting lost among thousands of other businesses trying to stand out. With Google’s ever-changing algorithm, it can be difficult to know what's effective at a given moment.
Success in SEO hinges on businesses putting together a good combination strategy that brings together an integrated web of great content, credible links, and social media signals. Each of these supports the other, providing incredible value to readers, building your authority and brand value, and distributing your content across new channels.
Pillar 1: Content
The first pillar of an effective SEO strategy is your site's content and how it is structured. There are five key aspects that will ensure that your content is doing what it's supposed to do. A strong onsite SEO plan includes keyword research, content optimization, user experience, site design, and the presence of a blog with content that is frequently updated.
Keyword research: The foundation of your SEO strategy is researching keywords. The concept is that you can only optimize your site once you know how your target market searches for the products and/or services you offer. Google's Keyword Tool is designed to help advertisers in the Adwords Program target effective keywords for their paid advertisements. It's a free, robust tool that can be used by website owners and webmasters that want to understand the range of keywords people are using to get to their site.
- Phrases related to your business, brand, products, industry, location, and customers. Once you have that list, enter each of these words into the Google Keyword Tool to see what related terms are recommended by Google. Google’s suggestions will greatly expand your keyword list. Pay attention to long-tail keywords. They’re easier to rank for and just as important as your major keywords.
- Enter your site URL into Google Keyword Tool. It will scan your site, and come back with a list of recommended terms that you are currently ranking for or could target. Many of these suggested terms are will be great keywords for your site.
- Create a list of competitor sites and enter each of those URLs into the Keyword Tool. Your competitors may be ranking well for specific terms that you hadn’t thought about. The given information can often inform your approach and options you hadn’t thought of yet.
Keyword structure: After developing a list of keywords, it's now the time to organize them. A simple way to do this is by taking a look at your website structure and mapping keywords to the major sections.
Content optimization: Content optimization is to include your primary keyword in your article title and meta tags. Remember that each page represents an individual piece of content that can be optimized for different, specific phrases and conversion goals.
User experience: User experience is simply a way of encapsulating the question: when people visit your site, are they able to quickly and efficiently do what they want? If visitors are trying to make a purchase or find specific information, it should be easy for them to locate the menu and other navigation on the site.
Site design: If you're trying to build an authority site but are working on a highly out of date design, consider upgrading your website. An old websites with spammy looks does not attract visitors. And if it does attract visitors because of your content, your old-fashioned spammy design will make them uncomfortable.
Regularly updated blog: By regularly adding articles that are valuable for your readers - from timely pieces that comment on trends and news to evergreen pieces like product reviews - you’ll build your authority and improve your search rankings accordingly. Another benefit of regularly blogging is that it quickly builds the amount of content that you can rank for in the search engines. A well-developed strategy can help you target many of your keywords through ongoing blog development. Think of each blog post as another raffle ticket you throw in the hat for being listed in search engine results pages.
Pillar 2: Links
Links give Google very important signals. Since the the internet is made of links, Google travels from one place to another, and create a map of what it indexes. When another site or reader found material on your webpage valuable and relevant enough for them to link to it, the more links you get. More likes also builds trust and authority, causing your pages to rank higher and funnel more traffic.
In the past, link building was a numbers game. Links came from simple tactics that included listing your site in a bunch of directories, linking to your site from comments on blogs, and other transactions that focused more on having someone dedicate the time to “link building” than actually focusing on creating value for readers.
Today, link building is still critically important, but there’s more pressure to build high quality links. Sites that you’re linking from need to be reputable and relevant to your industry. Here are some strategies to build links that also build your brand and authority in your niche.
Guest blogging: Guest blogging is simple: you find and pitch an appropriate blog with an offer to write a post geared toward their audience. When you're guest blogging, look for reputable blogs that are relevant to your industry and subject.
Press release distribution: Press releases are another way to build links to your site and help build brand recognition for your business. Create a newsworthy story to write about in your release, and find a relevant place to hook up with the broader audience.
Repackaging existing content: Building links to your site doesn't require a group of writers constantly developing new content (although it does have advantages). Instead, look at your existing content and see how it can be repackaged across platforms and mediums. If you have great content, you can make that content the foundation of a viral infographic if you can target specific people at the perfect time.
Real world connections into links: If your are sponsoring local events in your community, or speaking at a conference, or doing consulting for a non-profit, or belong to any professional associations, speakers organizations, or civic groups, you can have the chance to list yourself on their website, along with a bio or company description and a website link.
High quality directories: Building links by using directories, as well as some manners in link exchange, are the old trick building that Google has kept its eye away now. But there are number of directories out there that are valuable to your SEO strategy. Be on the lookout for three kinds of directories where it can be useful to list your site. The first is local directories; being listed can help you rank for location-based keywords. The second is niche or professional directories that are focused on your industry. The third are established directories with sections that focus on your area of expertise.
Pillar 3: Social Media
There was a time when analysts wondered if social media would make SEO obsolete. In reality, social media has augmented and transformed the way that we think about SEO, and how SEO itself works, without making the itself go away. Today, social signals are having a direct impact on how sites are ranking in the SERPs. Below is a lost of what you can do in making the most out of your social media presence.
Interact in social media channels: The best way to build some hot topics on social media is to get to social media websites, create an account and get connected. It's crucial that your social presence is your place for conversation. Share content that's high value for your audience, while also engaging with them. Engagement means sharing other people's content, thanking people for retweets and shares, and joining people in discussions concerning your niche. Spend a few minutes a day focused on engagement.
Build your brand: Social media is a great place to help build your brand. A branded social presence can help build word of mouth marketing that can get you customers, mentions, and links. Make sure that your profile names and descriptions are branded and linked to your site. Ideally, use your username and URL for both sites, and both should be linked to your business. Ensure that the look and feel of your site carries through to your profile layouts and design. And to make everything work as it's intended, share professional content in your brand as frequently as possible.
Make content easy to share: Install programs/add-ons/plugins to allow readers to instantly share anything they enjoy on your site. Focus on making sure that you have included the relevant networks – at a minimum, users should be able to share to Facebook, Twitter and Google +.
Platform strategy: Decide what platforms are going to be the most effective for your website. The best strategy takes into account the social behaviors of your target customers: What are their interests? What do they like to share? What information do they seek? Spend your time online to create a following that generates social activity and connects to your business goals.
Google+: From a purely SEO perspective, it’s important to have a presence on Google+. Here’s why: Google has been explicit that social signals play a role in its algorithm. Twitter and Facebook matter some, but many of the search results from both networks are restricted. Therefore, the network that carries the most important role is its own social media. Ensure that you have a profile that’s connected to your site, and spend your time building audience there. Share content, and make sure that a Google+ button is available.
SEO is definitely complex, and in a simplistic legacy approach is no longer enough. Effective SEO requires managing of different elements, ranging from your content and keywords to your social media and link building activities. But with a focus on these three pillars, you can create a foundation and structure that will support a high ranking site.