Here’s a cliche among digital marketers: search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t what it used to be.
Here’s a true statement you don’t hear as often: your SEO strategy for 2021 shouldn’t focus on keywords.
These days, most businesses understand the basic concepts of SEO and why it’s important.
However, when it comes to developing and executing a sound SEO strategy for your business, just creating content for the keywords your customers are searching for is both arduous and, well, wrong.
In this post, we’ll explain what an SEO strategy is, and how you create your own to help you meet your content marketing goals.
An SEO strategy is the process of organizing a website’s content by topic to improve the likelihood of appearing in search results. Essentially, it is the process you follow in order to maximize the opportunity to gain organic traffic from search engines.
Having an SEO strategy is important because it helps you stay on track when creating content. Instead of just creating what you think people are looking for, your strategy will ensure that you’re creating content that people are searching for.
For content marketing, an SEO strategy is a critical piece of the puzzle because it is how your content will come to be seen in the first place, especially in search engine result pages (SERPs). If your content is scattered and unorganized, search engine bots will have a harder time indexing your site, identifying your area of authority, and ranking your site pages.
Mobile SEO Strategy
Mobile SEO is an important factor to keep in mind when creating your overall strategy. Mobile optimization involves ensuring your site and site content is available and accessible to visitors on mobile devices, so they can have the same experience and receive the same value as desktop browsers.
Mobile optimization is incredibly important, as Google practices mobile-first indexing. This means instead of crawling a desktop site, the algorithm will use the mobile version of your site when indexing and ranking pages for SERPs. In addition, 61% of Google search queries in the U.S. occur on mobile devices. So, all things considered, your SEO strategy would be ineffective without prioritizing mobile optimization.
While it’s not an entirely separate process, there are distinct considerations for mobile SEO like monitoring page speed, responsive site design, local SEO, and creating content that is high-quality, regardless of device it’s viewed on.
What is an SEO?
Search engine optimizers (SEOs) are people who optimize websites to help them rank higher on SERPs and gain more organic traffic. In essence, an SEO is a highly specialized content strategist that helps a business discover opportunities to answer questions people have about their respective industries.
There are three types of SEO that an SEO strategist can focus on:
- On-page SEO: This SEO focuses on the content that’s actually on site pages, and how to optimize it to boost the website’s ranking for specific keywords.
- Off-page SEO: This SEO focuses on links directed to the website from elsewhere on the internet. The number of backlinks a site has from reputable sources helps you build trust with search algorithms.
- Technical SEO: This SEO focuses on a website’s backend architecture, like site code. Google cares just as much about technical set-up as it does content, so this position is important for rankings.
Bear in mind that every business has different objectives, so it is an SEO’s job to examine their industry, determine what their audiences care about, and develop a strategy that gives them what they’re looking for.
Below we’ll go over some steps you can take to ensure your SEO strategy sets you up for success.
1. Make a list of topics.
Keywords are at the heart of SEO, but they’re no longer the first step to achieving organic growth. Instead, the first step is to make a list of topics you’d like your content to address.
To start, compile a list of about 10 words and terms associated with your product or service. Use an SEO tool ( Google’s Keyword Tool, Ahrefs , SEMRush or GrowthBar just to name a few) to research these words, identify their search volume, and come up with variations that make sense for your business.
By doing this, you are associating these topics with popular short-tail keywords, but you’re not dedicating individual blog posts to these keywords. Let’s go over an example of this process using the image below.
Let’s say a swimming pool business is trying to rank for “fiberglass pools,” which receives 110,000 searches per month. This short-tail keyword can represent the overarching topic for creating their content, but the business will also need to identify a series of related keywords to include in their content. For example, they could opt to use the “fiberglass pool prices,” or “fiberglass pool cost,” to achieve additional rankings for the overall keyword of fiberglass pools.
Using search volume and competition as your measurement, you can create a list of 10-15 short-tail keywords that are relevant to your business and are being searched for by your target audiences. Then, rank this list based on monthly search volume.
Each of the keywords that you’ve identified are called pillars, and they serve as the primary support for a larger cluster of long-tail keywords, which we’ll discuss below.
2. Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics.
During this step you’ll begin optimizing your pages for specific keywords. For each pillar you’ve identified, use your keyword tool to identify five to 10 long-tail keywords that dig deeper into the original topic keyword.
For example, we regularly create content about SEO, but it’s difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic with this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword — and potentially the same SERPs. Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you’re reading right now), and other subtopics within the SEO umbrella.
This helps businesses attract people who have varying interests and concerns — and ultimately create more entry points for people interested in what you have to offer.
Use your long-tail keywords to create blog posts or web pages that explain the specific topics within the pillars you’ve selected. Together, all of your long-tail keywords create a cluster around a pillar topic. Search engine algorithms depend on the relationships between clusters to connect users with the information they’re looking for.