The six components of good SEO strategy. I have an admission to make before I dive in and discuss this topic. Starting out, SEO was a complete mystery to me, and remained so for quite some time. I can relate and empathize with you as a business owner if you feel the same way. I once had a client tell me that he hates the internet (still probably feels that way to this day). Perhaps you feel the same, and have built your business on trust and referrals. If so, congratulations; that is no easy task. However, we are in the digital age; people will continue to utilize the internet to find products and services. Therefore, it makes sense to stay on top of your digital presence.
If you’re an owner, I can also empathize with you if you have been burned by a bad SEO agency or strategy. In the early days of google searches, the search algorithm itself wasn’t as evolved as it was now. Agencies made large sums of money by implementing “black hat” practices. These tactics included keyword stuffing, purchasing backlinks, or manipulating title tags. Back in 2012, google released a major update to the search algorithm entitled Panda. This update did a clean sweep of the internet, penalizing sites for things bad SEO agencies were responsible for.
I have to imagine there were a LOT of angry calls from owners to these agencies. Large amounts of money were spent to get to the top, and overnight the rankings were gone. It was such a sweeping change that MOZ.com, which is an authority on SEO, wrote an entire article on how to recover from the update.
In spite of this, Google remains the go-to search engine that the world turns to for answers. Panda was not, and will not be the last update: Google’s mission is to match the best result to searches entered, and will continue to evolve the platform to make sure the search engine isn’t being manipulated.
Ranking does remain a daunting task. According to a study done by Oberlo.com, in the month of December 2021 alone over 89.3 BILLION searches were done on Google. Plus, only 9% of websites will rank in the coveted top 10 spots for organic search. Fortunately, with a good SEO strategy, it is possible to move the needle forward and eventually hit that top 10. Let’s dive in and talk about the components of good SEO.
1: Keywords: A Good SEO Strategy Starts With Keyword Research
The topic of keywords should, and will, have its own article. For the sake of this post, I will be brief and say that keyword research is an ongoing process. as searches evolve, there exists an endless source of ranking opportunities based on how people are looking for your products and services. A good SEO strategy starts with good keyword research. Typically an agency will utilize tools such as SEMRush, ahrefs, Brightlocal and others to uncover keyword opportunities. It is important to note that keywords fall into three different categories:
- Navigational: these types of searches are usually when someone is looking for a specific brand or website, such as Nike or Netflix. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to compete with brands on these types of navigational searches unless a business has really deep advertising pockets and wants to be shown in ads above brands like these. That sort of PPC strategy is an entirely different topic.
- Transactional: a transactional search is one in which someone is looking to purchase something specific, but hasn’t decided where to buy it from. Examples would be “buy golf shoes” or “buy golf shoes metal cleats.”
- Informational: this type of search is exactly as it sounds: someone is simply looking for information on a given topic. Examples would include “golf shoes reviews” or “best golf shoes.”
A good keyword study will help to break down these types of searches into opportunities for you. A good SEO agency will advise on which types of searches your business should seek to rank for.
Russel Brunson, who is a highly accomplished digital marketer, is famous for saying the riches are in the niches. Knowing the niche market you serve will help both you and an SEO agency. For example, “golf shoes” is a very broad topic and difficult to rank for. However, you might specialize in offering golf shoes for players over 60. A niche topic like this will be much easier to rank for; competition is likely to be lower.
2: Meta Tags: The Brief Synopsis of Your Content
There has been some debate regarding the importance of meta tags. Briefly stated, a meta tag is the HTML tag that tells the search engine what a page is about. Google has publicly stated that TITLE tags are not a direct ranking factor. This is possibly due to abusive SEO practices such as stuffing keywords into a title tag. the META tag, however, can make a difference to your SEO strategy. A solid 300 character description which contains the keyword you wish to rank for is what you’re after, and a good SEO agency can help you identify which, if any, pages on your website lack this description.
3: Content Creation: Matching Content with Searches
Chances are, you’ve come across the phrase “content is king.” I’d like to take this a step further: QUALITY content is king. A good keyword strategy will yield plenty of opportunities for content creation; more importantly, for the creation of content that matches high traffic searches. I like to think of good content like bread: if it’s fresh, it’s more likely to be grabbed off the shelf. If it’s stale, it’ll either be discounted or discarded. Google views your content the same way: the search engine wants to match content to searches. However, it’s not just about relevance; it’s about freshness. Therefore, a good SEO strategy MUST include an ongoing content creation strategy.
4: Backlinks: The Popularity Contest of the Internet
Ok, time for another admission. When I first began to study SEO, I understood that having backlinks was important. However, how to obtain them was a total mystery.
According to Neil Patel, the average domain that sits in the #1 spot on Google will have about 20,000 backlinks. If you’re like me, a number like that makes your head spin. 20,000 backlinks! At the time of this writing, I’m both ashamed and unashamed to admit that my domain doesn’t have that. (Hence why I’m actively creating content). There are a number of ways to obtain backlinks, but a good SEO strategy will go after good ones. But how do you do that?
A good SEO agency will be able to analyze your link health, and also do a competition analysis using tools like SEMRush. You’ll be able to see what links you have, what links your competition has, and what links your competition DOESN’T have. In an article I wrote on local link building, I covered some tactics on how to obtain quality backlinks. I’ll therefore be brief and say this: add value. I’m a fan of the BNI philosophy of the giver’s gain. Industries that are relevant to yours are great sources of potential links; be prepared as you engage with these businesses to offer some type of value in exchange for a link to your content.
Google is concerned first with the QUALITY of your links before the quantity: is your site getting linked from sources that are relevant to your industry? If so, great! You’ve gained a lot of relevant popularity votes and therefore stand a better chance of ranking higher. Just like content creation, a good SEO strategy will involve the leg work of reaching out to earn these “popularity votes.”
5: Social Media: The More Obvious Popularity Contest
What social channels should you pay attention to? That depends on the industry your in. An attorney is more likely to post content that resonates with their audience on LinkedIN than on Instagram or TikTok. Facebook does remain a good place to start based on sheer popularity. If you have an e-commerce store, the focus should likely be on Instagram and more recently, TikTok. Regardless of the social channel that is best for your business, the name of the game is creating engaging, value adding, and informative content. Google analytics can track traffic from social sources; if you have traffic coming from social media, and that traffic stays engaged on your site, you’re doing a great job. If you’re pushing paid traffic to your site from social sources but you aren’t getting any new leads, sales, signups, etc., it may be a good idea to review your strategy with an experienced agency.
6: Product Images: Your Digital First Impression
If you don’t run an e-commerce store, this doesn’t pertain to your business. However, if you do, I implore you to understand the importance of quality product images. More and more, consumers are conducting business online. We may never see the complete death of in person retail, but the trend is towards most commerce being done online. Even major retailers are doing curbside pickup; customers are relying entirely on images and descriptions of products before they make a purchase. Therefore, if your images aren’t putting your products’ best foot forward, it’d be wise to either re-shoot them or hire a photographer. You’re likely losing sales and not even aware that its happening.
I sincerely hope you’ve found this article to be informative! If you’re seeking an agency to help with your own SEO strategy, I’d love to have a conversation about how I can help. Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
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