SEO is one of the most effective tools to grow your business organically. But to be most impactful, your SEO activities need to be strategic and purposeful. This article will give you a rundown of what an SEO strategy is, how to create one and what should be in it to drive massive benefit for your business.
What is an SEO strategy, anyway?
You know you need to have an SEO strategy, but you’re not entirely sure what one is? No worries, we’ve got you covered. SEO means search engine optimization. Which in layman terms means creating a website that is more likely to appear on search engine results pages. The benefits of SEO are big. If done correctly, it can:
- Drive more organic traffic to your website
- Increase your business opportunity
- Grow your profit margin
- Grow your market share
An SEO strategy is the master plan behind your SEO efforts. It takes into account your strengths and weaknesses, your competition, your business opportunity, focusing your attention on what SEO actions to take to derive the best results for your business.
Rather than flailing about in the vast space of the internet, taking action that has little benefit to your business, an SEO strategic plan will provide focus and purpose to your actions. Not least giving you some confidence you’re heading in the right direction.
Building an SEO strategy that works for your business
Like with any business strategy, an SEO strategy involves zooming out of the nitty-gritty, day-to-day and looking at the bigger picture. We’ll talk you through how to go about this, but in a nutshell, a good SEO strategy should look at:
- How the business is performing in SEO terms right now
- What the SEO opportunity looks like
- How to achieve your SEO potential
We’ll delve into each of these three stages in turn, so follow along for guidance.
Analysing your current SEO performance
If we think of strategic development as a process of knowing where we are in order to know where we want to go and how to get there, then this stage is the process of knowing where we currently are.
Part of this analysis is understanding your current strengths and weaknesses, so you know what to start, stop and continue doing. Many people call this an SEO audit. Here are some tips on how to conduct your own SEO audit:
Manually search for your own business/site
Try searching your own business name, domain and primary keyword in a search engine and see what happens. Are you appearing high up on the search results page or not? Take note of where you’re appearing and any competitors who are appearing above you, we’ll do some more research into them later. If you notice a page you’d expect to be ranking well isn’t, then make note of it and do some more digging. Here is what happens when I search for ‘Position Digital’ in Google:
Crawl your site using SEMrush or Ubersuggest
Website crawling is when a bot sifts through your site to index and understand the content. It’s what Google does to understand what your site is about. Using a tool like SEMrush or Ubersuggest allows you to see how your site is appearing to bots when they sift through to understand it. Once the tool has crawled your website, you’ll get a clear report card of how your site is performing, plus tips for improving your SEO traffic. Take note of key metrics such as:
- Your SEO score
- Organic traffic
- Organic keywords
- Number of backlinks
- Issues and errors (and if they’re high or low impact)
These metrics can be used to build the picture of how you’re performing now and can act as a benchmark for your future performance.
It’s a good idea to conduct an SEO audit regularly to make sure your site is optimised as and when new search engine algorithm changes come into effect. The last thing you want is to slip down the search rankings without even knowing. Read more on how to stay on top of Google algorithm changes here.
Assess your site against the following SEO checklist
There are certain ranking factors we know help improve your SEO and organic traffic. You can look at your site manually to check if a) you have done all of the following for every web page and b) each element is fully optimised.
- Title tags include main target keyword
- Meta descriptions are unique, compelling and contain keywords
- Headings and subheadings used (using keywords where appropriate)
- Site loads within 2 secs (read more about site speed optimisation here) (LINK)
- Images file sizes have been optimised
- Image alt text and filenames contain keywords
- Internal links make sense for user experience
- Site is structured using a hierarchy that makes sense
If there are some items on this list that you can’t tick off or you know need some work, then make a note of them.
Check how quickly your site loads
Site load speed is a key factor for SEO performance. In an ideal world, your site should load within two seconds. There are lots of things you can do to optimise your site for speed but firstly you need to assess how fast (or slow) your site is to load. Use a free tool like GTmetrix to find out how long it takes for your site to load entirely. Make note of this time and benchmark against it for future. Remember, even if you can’t get your site down to a two-second load time, the most important part to load right away is your above the fold content, as that’s the bit people will see immediately – think of it as your make or break content.
Pull together your findings
Once you’ve carried out the above steps, you’ll have pulled together a comprehensive picture of your current SEO performance. Record this however you find most useful to refer back to it. Whether you use a spreadsheet or another method, the important thing is to be able to understand which things are done or on track and which things need fixing and improving.
Identifying your SEO opportunity
This part of the SEO strategy building involves looking more broadly than your own site, taking into account the competition.
As I mentioned earlier, you may have noted down some sites that are ranking higher than you or hot on your heels in search engine rankings. These are your competitors. Their ranking in SEO affects how much organic traffic you receive – the higher they are, the lower you are. While it’s important not to obsess over the competition, it’s really important to be aware of what your competitor profile is, as with any aspect of business. Here are some good ways to get a sense of your competition and any SEO gaps and opportunities out there:
Use SEMrush to identify your competitors
While you may already have some competitors in your periphery, using SEMrush’s Domain Overview tool will help you visualise where you are in the competitive landscape. It’ll give you a sense of a) who your competitors are and b) how you’re performing compared to them. You can then go away and dig deeper into their SEO strategy.
Dig deeper into your competitors’ site performance
Using these tools, you can get a picture of the following metrics:
- Domain rating (how authoritative their site is)
- Number of websites linking to them
- Organic search traffic (estimated)
- Number of keyword rankings (estimated)
Record these metrics however you prefer – we tend to use Google Docs for this. These numbers give us a snapshot of how competitors are performing against each other and how we shape up.
Analyse competitor backlink profiles
The next step in the dig is to look at the backlinks your competitors have. A backlink is when one website links to another. Here’s how to get your first 100 backlinks. Looking into your competitors’ backlink profiles will give you a picture of their backlinking strategy and who is pointing to them online. To do this, use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush again. You want to look at:
- Their backlinks
- Their referring domains
- Which pages are getting linked to the most
To use SEMrush as an example, you can identify your backlink opportunities using the Backlink Gap tool. It’ll automatically pull out the domains that link to your competition, but not you, showing you clearly where you’re missing out. Using this information, you can go away and create a backlinking strategy that feeds into your overall SEO strategy – using these missing links as a starting point.
Conduct competitive keyword research
You have probably done keyword research before – which is great. But to take it a step further and ensure you’re positioning yourself for success, competitive keyword research is key. Competitive keyword research involves analysing your keywords against your competitors and understanding where the opportunities lie to swoop in and yield more organic traffic. It’ll help you identify:
- Low competition keywords in your niche you could target
- Any keyword gaps your competitors have that you could take advantage of
- Keywords your competitors are using (and what they’re doing to rank for them)
Use this analysis to inform any gaps in your keyword strategy – based on that of your competition.
Creating your strategic SEO roadmap to success
Now you’ve done the painstaking work of analysing both your own site and that of your competitors, you will have a more complete picture of the SEO landscape, your position within that and the opportunities out there. The opportunities are where we should be heading. And these usually comprise of a) fixing our own weaknesses b) turning our competitors’ weaknesses into our opportunities.
There are likely to be several strands to your SEO strategy, which could be:
- Acquiring backlinks
- Ranking for target keywords
- Optimising your site
Based on the information you have gathered, assess where you should prioritise your focus in the short, medium and long term. Remember, SEO is a holistic marketing practice that constantly evolves. So, make sure you pay attention to all of your areas for improvement and opportunity, rather than focusing your attention on just one.
Once you’ve prioritised your SEO activities, you can begin creating a more detailed action plan and a step-by-step of what you need to do, how you’ll go about it, giving yourself deadlines to help you stay on track.
Revisit your SEO strategy regularly
As with any good strategy, your SEO strategy should be tweaked and adapted as and when new information surfaces that alter the response required. Don’t see your SEO strategy as a law, set into stone for all time. Instead, see it as dynamic, live and ready to pivot towards success as needed. This is particularly important considering that SEO is a constantly evolving, often changing landscape.
Need help getting your SEO strategy off the ground?
At Position Digital, we’re a bunch of SEO enthusiasts that are passionate about staying one step ahead of the competition with fresh and innovative approaches to SEO. We love working with businesses looking to grow by using nitty-gritty data analysis with creative spark – positioning our clients for SEO success. So, if you like what you’ve read here, get in touch to chat about how we could work together.