Developing an effective SEO strategy is no walk in the park. If you want to increase your rankings within the search engine results and drive conversions, you need to have an SEO strategy that is targeted and focused on delivering results. Taking the time to implement and maintain an effective SEO campaign can be fruitful, helping to drive traffic and grow your online presence. Sound like a plan? Let’s take a look at how you can develop a killer SEO strategy for 2022.
The first thing you should do when developing an SEO strategy is to audit your current SEO performance. If you have not evaluated your SEO performance before, now is the time to change that. It makes it very difficult to know where to go if you don’t know where you’ve been, right?
Conducting an SEO audit could provide you with some surprising results, especially if you’ve never done one before. It could also help you to uncover some site issues that are hindering your SEO performance.
Fortunately, conducting an SEO audit isn’t a laborious process. Google provides plenty of tools that you can you use to check your SEO. These include:
- Google Analytics for website performance metrics and data
- Google PageSpeed Insights for measuring page performance on different devices
- Google Search Console for checking if your site is properly indexed
- Google Schema Markup Testing for checking your structured data for any errors
It might also be worth using SEMRush’s audit tool to give your metrics such as:
- Site health
- Site performance
- Internal linking
Here’s an example, using the Dreamscape site, of the data you can pull from the site audit tool:
Once you’ve conducted an audit, you’ll be able to start making the required on-site improvements. The goals you set should be based on the data and information obtained from your audit. Make sure these are clear goals that allow you to measure success. Making your goals SMART can help.
For the next step in your SEO strategy, you need to conduct keyword research. The more effective your keyword research, the better chance you have of developing an effective SEO strategy. After all, the keywords you pick will be the backbone of your entire campaign.
Keyword research should be one of the very first things you do in your SEO strategy. Knowing what keywords to target in order to help people find your services will shape your entire SEO strategy. It also provides you with an insight into the content your target market is interested in.
You can start by using Google search suggestions and Google Trends to get an idea of target keywords. You should also make sure the keywords you select contain a mixture of short-tail and long-tail keywords.
Analyse search results
Once you have identified your keywords, it is a good idea to check your competition and see who is ranking for those keywords. By analysing the first page of Google’s search results for your chosen keyword, you’ll be able to get a good idea of how you can try and rank highly too. On-page SEO patterns can be easily seen here. For more advanced SEO ranking factors, you will need to use a Tool such as Majestic, which identifies external backlinks, referring domains, trust rank, citation rank, etc.
If you notice any reoccurring themes or patterns throughout the listings on Google’s first page of results, there’s a good reason for that. Google wants to serve its searchers with the best content that will address their search query. If the high-ranking pages are all doing something similar, you should probably do the same.
Notice how the top 3 search results for the query ‘long-tail keywords’ has a similar theme. They focus primarily on what long-tail keywords are.
Local searches are on the increase, so ignoring local SEO is no longer an option if you want to create a killer SEO strategy. Similar to ordinary SEO, local SEO involves optimising your online presence for higher visibility in search results. The difference is focusing on local and localised search results.
Local SEO is particularly beneficial to brick-and-mortar businesses that trade from a physical location. It’s estimated that around 46% of all searches on Google are looking for local businesses. That’s not all. 88% of mobile searches for local businesses visit or call the store within 24 hours.
Local search results are usually displayed through a ‘map-pack’ or 3-pack’, with the results being based on the proximity to the search, prominence online, and relevance to the search query. Google Business Profiles are also displayed within local search results.
Pillar pages and topic clusters
Once you have carried out your keyword research and developed your buyer personas, you should begin to develop a content strategy built around topic clusters.
Topic clusters are a collection of related content that collectively cover a broad topic area and will sit beneath a more general pillar page. The pillar page will have a broad focus that links to multiple cluster pages covering specific areas of that topic, and strategically placed internal links.
Here’s a diagram to give you an idea of how pillar pages and topic clusters work:
Embracing topic clusters and pillar pages within your content strategy is a great way to boost your authority within a given subject. In turn, Google will start to rank your content higher. The more authoritative you are, the greater the chance of higher search result listings.
The pillar page you focus on should be linked to a short-tail keyword that has a high search volume, such as inbound marketing. Then, each of the topic clusters you create linking from the pillar page will focus on a long-tail keyword with a lower search volume.
Although it can take time to develop a wide range of content to link from your pillar page, you should in no way be discouraged. Just getting the increased traffic and higher keyword ranking alone should be enough to drive your pillar page and topic clusters.
Using a pillar page is a good strategy for a website with a low domain authority that wishes to rank for competitive keywords. Even though you may have quality content, websites with a low domain authority will struggle to compete with sites that have a higher domain authority.
A pillar page and topic clusters will allow you to start ranking for less competitive keywords and start building up your authority and traffic volume. As you continue to grow, you can then start to rank for the more competitive keywords.
On-page optimisation is a crucial stage that benefits both your audience and those handy Google crawlers. On-page optimisation involves optimising metadata, linking anchor text, and schema (see the tip above) to make the site easier to understand and better read your content.
The on-page optimisation techniques you should be implementing include:
- Title and heading tags (H1 for titles and H2 and H3 for headings)
- Metadata (including meta descriptions alongside clear and short URL slugs)
- Internal and outbound links (include a mixture but don’t go overboard)
- Image optimisation (including reducing the file-size and adding alt-text)
- Submitting a sitemap (a blueprint of your site for easier crawling and indexing)
- Improving the format and readability of content (including featured snippets)
Similar to on-page optimisation, there are several techniques you can implement to create an effective SEO strategy. However, unlike on-page techniques, these are optimisation methods you implement away from your own site.
The most well-known (and popular) off-page optimisation techniques are link-building and guest blogging. Both these techniques can take some time to start seeing the results (as with pillar pages), but it’s worth it all the same.
Link-building involves seeking opportunities for gaining link opportunities on third-party sites. The links you receive to your site from quality sources will help to boost your authority. Linking is like referencing, and the more authoritative references you get, the higher quality Google will think of your content and rank it higher in search results.
The same goes for guest blogging, but instead of link opportunities, it involves creating an original piece of content for a third-party blog with the hope of increasing your authority and traffic. Guest blogs will usually allow for the inclusion of 1 link within your article (although it’s best to check the guidelines first).
Implement a consistent content creation schedule
Our last piece of advice we can give to you before you embark on your SEO journey is to create a consistent schedule for creating and publishing content (and stick to it).
Your content is one of the most important elements in your SEO strategy. The more relevant and higher quality your content is, the greater favourability Google will apply to you. It will also help you to gain more links to your site as well.
Creating content that appeals to your target audience also helps in developing meaningful relationships with your customers and potential customers. You should be writing engaging content anyway if you follow an inbound marketing strategy. Try using Sinek’s golden circle to develop a narrative for your content.
Not only should you focus on regularly posting blog articles but try to create a variety of appealing content such as infographics and videos. People are much more likely to understand and remember visual messages than text so get creative!
With the advice we have given, you should be in a good position to embark on your SEO journey. Don’t forget to keep a track of your SEO strategy by measuring and tracking your success. There are some good free tools that can help you measure against the goals you set. Good luck with your killer SEO strategy!