Everyone today is mulling over how to create an SEO strategy.
The online competition is getting stiffer, and businesses want to rank higher on Google and make it easy for prospects to find them.
They also want qualified leads, to increase traffic, increase brand awareness, and or improve the overall business branding.
But they know this cannot happen without a sound SEO strategy.
And that's where most businesses hit a wall.
How do you create an SEO strategy when you don't know where to start? How do you optimize your website and content to rank on Google’s first page?
Don't worry, we got you covered.
We've created a comprehensive guide that will show you how to create an SEO strategy step by step.
But first, let's look at what an SEO strategy is and how it can help your business.
What is an SEO strategy?
An SEO strategy is a plan of action that businesses use to improve their organic search rankings and visibility on search engines.
An SEO strategy serves many purposes and among them is increasing traffic to your website. It does this by improving your site's ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Ranking higher on search engines increases your chances of converting visitors into customers. In fact, according to a FirstPageSage study, ranking #1 on Google awards you a 39.6% click-through rate (CTR), as shown below:
Image via FirstPageSage
Now, a good CTR means that your offering matches a customer’s needs, which also means more visitors to your website. And with a high number of visitors, you can easily:
- Increase the number of leads generated from your website
- Improve brand awareness and recognition
- Increase sales and revenue
Lucky for you, all these can be achieved through an effective SEO strategy. But where do you begin?
Well, to create an effective SEO strategy, you need to understand how search engines work and what factors influence your ranking on SERPs.
You also need to know what SEO techniques you can use to improve your ranking.
Here's a quick overview of how search engines work and the factors that influence your ranking:
How Search Engines Work
When someone types a query online, the search engine uses algorithms to find the best matching results.
The algorithms work by crawling the billions of pages on the internet, indexing them, and then evaluating them based on over 200 ranking factors.
After the evaluation, the algorithms rank the pages on SERPs according to their relevancy and usefulness.
The most relevant and useful pages are then displayed on the first page of search engine results.
To appear on the first page, your website must meet the requirements of the algorithms. You can do this by optimizing your website and content for the ranking factors, as we'll discuss in our SEO strategies.
But while at it, it's important to keep up with the latest SEO trends as search engine algorithms are constantly changing.
Factors That Influence Your SERPs Ranking
While we cannot list all the factors that influence your ranking on SERPs, here are the most important ones:
- Keywords: The keywords you use on your website help search engines understand what your website is about and whether it's relevant to a person's query.
- Content: The quality and quantity of the content on your website is another important factor. Your content should be keyword-rich, informative, and original.
- Backlinks: The number and quality of the backlinks pointing to your website is another important factor. Backlinks are links from other websites to your website.
- Site structure: The structure of your website also affects your ranking. Your website should be easy to navigate and have a logical structure.
- On-page SEO: On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual web pages. This includes factors like title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and image alt text.
- Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO refers to the optimization of factors that are not on your website, such as backlinks and social signals.
- Mobile-friendliness: With more and more people using mobile devices to access the internet, it's important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Local SEO: If you have a brick-and-mortar business, it's important to optimize your website for local SEO. This includes factors like your business name, address, and phone number.
Why is this important? Because up to 21% of people use the internet to search for local businesses. Here’s an example of a local SEO search:
Image via Google
- User experience: The user experience on your website also affects your ranking. Your website should be easy to use and provide a good user experience.
Now that you know what an SEO strategy is and how it can help your business, let's take a look at how to create an SEO strategy.
13 Effective Tips on How to create an SEO Strategy
Creating an SEO strategy can be a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider, and it's difficult to know where to start.
However, by following a few simple tips, you can create an SEO strategy that’ll enhance your visibility online and drive revenue.
Here are 10 practical tips on how to create an SEO strategy:
1. Analyze Your Current SEO Performance
The first thing in learning how to create an SEO strategy is by assessing your current performance.
Analyze your site’s organic visibility, keyword ranking, and traffic. This will help you determine where to focus your efforts and put together a successful SEO plan that will drive results.
You can easily use the Semrush Organic Research Tool, shown below to assess your website’s SEO performance:
Image via Semrush
You can use the tool to conduct organic research, and see how your keywords, backlinks, and more are performing.
If you need to check your organic keywords and traffic, for instance, all you need to do is:
- Visit the Semrush platform (using the above link)
- Log in or create an account
- Click on Organic Research from the dashboard (shown in the image below)
Image via Semrush
- Next, enter your domain in the search bar and specify the location. For example, google.com as shown:
Image via Semrush
- Click Search. Your result will be as shown below:
Image via Semrush
From the dashboard, you can check how your keywords are performing, and how much organic traffic you’re getting over time. You can similarly analyze your pages, subdomains, and your competitors.
These insights will give you a clear understanding of your website’s visibility, how it’s currently performing, and how it has changed over time.
Along with other website analytics, you can then identify areas you need to improve for a more successful SEO strategy.
2. Conduct a Competitive Analysis
You need to understand your competition if you want to create an effective SEO strategy. If you don’t know how they are faring, you can’t know how to beat them.
Fortunately, this is where a little competitive analysis comes in handy.
Competitive analysis is the process of researching, identifying, and understanding your competitors’ marketing strategies.
It will give you an idea of what they are doing to rank higher in SERPs and what you need to do to outrank them.
Here are a few ways you can go about your competitive analysis:
Identify Your Competitors
You can do this by searching for keywords related to your business. For example, if you’re a web design company, you can search for “web design” or “web design services.”
From the Semrush tool we shared earlier for analyzing your SEO performance, you can assess your competitors as well.
After entering your domain for Organic Research and clicking enter, click on competitors as shown below:
Image via Semrush
Scroll down to check the list of your organic competitors as shown below:
Image via Semrush
Evaluate Their Seo
Once you’ve identified your competitors, evaluate their SEO. Visit their website and check their content. Is it well-written? Does it provide value to its audience?
You can go further and check if the content is keyword-rich and whether it includes the right mix of text and visuals.
Also, check their website’s title and meta tags. Are they using the right keywords and are they effective?
What about their backlink profile? Are they getting links from quality websites? Which anchor texts are they using?
This data will give you a good starting point on how to create your own SEO strategy.
You can also use tools like Ahrefs to evaluate your competitor’s SEO analysis.
Once you’ve analyzed your competitor’s strategies, you can capitalize on their weaknesses or replicate their successful strategies.
3. Research Your Audience
Researching the audience is a crucial step that most businesses often skip while designing a winning SEO strategy. This could explain why they’re not getting the results they desire.
Having a powerful SEO strategy isn’t dependent on buyer personas only. It should be tailored toward how users interact online, and how they search for content. That way, you can create content and use keywords that match a search query or a user’s intent.
To get an in-depth insight into your audience, you can begin by answering essential questions such as:
- Which search engine do they use to search for answers? Do they use Google, Bing, or Yahoo?
- What do they expect your product or service to solve?
- What common questions do they typically ask about the industry, products, and services you deal in?
- Who do they consider an authoritative source when searching for answers?
So, where exactly can you source this information?
Start by exploring social media platforms for queries related to your offering. You can also post online surveys or look at online communities such as this one:
Image via Warrior Forum
The forum allows you to search for different topics and questions related to what you are offering. By looking at the questions – such as the ones shown in the image – you’ll know exactly what type of SEO content to create.
Apart from online forums, you can also ask the members of your sales team for information about what customers want.
While researching your audience, it’s crucial to be clear about elements such as age, gender, location, and pain points, among others. This will help you target prospects better by creating content that speaks to them.
Ultimately, understanding your audience forms the basis of creating a winning SEO strategy and helps you put them first.
4. Define Your SEO Goals
The next step on how to create an SEO strategy is to define your SEO goals and set measurable KPIs.
This will help you determine the approaches you’ll take to ensure the success of your SEO strategies.
For example, if you wanted to increase your website visibility in search results, you need to focus on improving your ranking for relevant keywords.
There are other SEO goals you could set, including:
- Increasing traffic to your website
- Improving the quality of traffic to your website
- Increasing conversions
- Improving the rank of your website for certain keywords
- Enhancing the user experience and responsiveness of your website
While setting these end outcomes, it is important to be specific if you want to measure their effectiveness. Don’t set arbitrary SEO goals based on what sounds good.
Don’t say, “we want to triple our organic traffic” or “we want to increase sales by 200%. You will fail. Instead, analyze your current SEO performance and from the data, you can set predictive outcomes that are achievable.
And how do you know you are achieving your goals? You use KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, to measure their progress and performance.
If your goal is to get more website traffic, be specific about the number of unique visitors you want. If it’s lead generation, how many do you want in a month and how will you measure conversions?
You can also measure the ROI, percentage increase in sales, average visits to the page, impressions, reach, engagement, and more.
Of course, every business is different. So, it is important to tailor these KPIs to your specific goals.
5. Find the Right Keywords
If you want your SEO strategy to be effective, you need to find the right keywords. This is important as it will help you produce content matching a customer’s search query.
The easiest way you can do this is by using Google Suggest. Simply type the keywords you want to rank for, and Google will populate it with more suggestions:
Image via Google
Why these Google suggestions? Well, they come straight from the popular queries on the search platform. This means that people are actually searching for them.
While Google makes it easy to find keywords you can use in your content, it doesn’t show you the search volume or keyword difficulty.
For this, you can use Semrush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest among others. Using these tools, you can simply search for the keyword you want and check its volume and difficulty. Here’s what it’d look like on Ubersuggest:
Image via Ubersuggest
From the above screenshot, you can determine the keyword difficulty, which will help you gauge the competitiveness of your keywords on SERPs.
You can also check the keyword search volume, to determine whether your keyword will generate meaningful traffic.
Meanwhile, you should also aim for long-tail keywords – keywords containing four words or more.
Because they demonstrate a strong buyer intent. Consider these two examples:
“Nike sneakers” and “Nike Men Air Force sneakers”
The first keyword is not specific and it could range from running shoes to casual sneakers. The second long-tail keyword, however, shows that the person is specific about what they want.
See the difference?
That’s why you should use a mix of both short- and long-tail keywords while creating your SEO strategy. Once you’ve built a list of the necessary keywords, you can integrate them into your content and website. Ensure that you fit them naturally without overusing them.
6. Optimize Your Website for On-Page SEO
The next thing you need to do is optimize your website for on-page SEO. On-page SEO encompasses everything you can do on your web pages to improve their ranking.
It could mean tweaking your website’s design and code to make it more search engine friendly.
There are several on-page SEO techniques you can use, but here are the most important ones:
Use the Right Keywords in Your Title and Meta Tags
Your title and meta tags are among the first things Google sees when it crawls your website. That’s why you should make sure to integrate your target keywords in these tags.
Titles include those that carry the H1, H2, and H3…tags. Meta tags, on the other hand, are snippets of text describing the web page’s content. They don’t appear on the page but in their source code.
That said, your title tag (H1) should be no longer than 60 characters and it should accurately describe the page’s content. Meanwhile, your meta tags should give a brief summary of your page’s content.
Here’s an image showing what this section means:
Image via Avengering
Optimize Your Images and Videos
You should also optimize your images and videos by including target keywords in their file names and tags. This will help Google index them properly. Here’s an image showing where to add your target keyword or alt tags while publishing content on WordPress:
Image via Yoast
Create Unique and Compelling Content
If you want your on-page SEO to be effective, you need to create content that’s both unique and compelling. Your content should also be relevant to your target keywords, as we’ll discuss below.
Use Internal Linking
Internal linking is important as it helps Google understand your website’s structure. It also helps reduce your website’s bounce rate.
An internal link is any hyperlink that redirects users to another web page on your website.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Google is now using mobile-first indexing, which means that it’s now using the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking.
This is why you need to make sure that your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your website is up to par.
Image via Google
7. Improve Existing Content on Your Website
The next step in enhancing your knowledge on how to create an SEO strategy is reviewing existing content.
The first thing you should do is identify web pages that aren’t performing well and either redirect, optimize, or remove them. This step is particularly since the pages are not bringing any value.
One of the tools you can use to find low-quality content on your website is Google Analytics. Here’s how:
- Log into your Google Analytics account
- Navigate to “Site Content” then “Landing Pages”
Image via Ahrefs
Under the “sessions” column, you can sort them from the least performing (one with the lowest number of sessions).
From here, you can identify the landing pages with the lowest number of visitors and:
- Completely remove the content
- Optimize it by adding ranking keywords, tags, and more
- Redirect the low-session page to a similar one on your website
- Combine several pieces of related content into one post
The decision you make depends on the content on your website.
After 5 years, content can lose relevancy. You might want to delete such posts. But if it provides meaningful information but lacks depth, you can combine it with other related content.
While optimizing your existing content, you can:
- Add visual elements – Add infographics, statistics, and more to content that is 100% text. The visual elements will improve the reading experience by simplifying complex concepts.
- Update everything – Update the whole content to reflect current trends. Also, delete old pictures and replace them with new, relevant images. This way, your content becomes current, and your on-page SEO is top-notch.
- Make your content easy to read – Chances are that your old content isn’t optimized for mobile. Therefore, strive to improve their readability on smartphones and other devices by updating them to match your current SEO content.
Updating your old content will not only help your posts remain relevant but will attract more traffic. Just try as much to bring to life the low-performing content, one at a time, and be sure to use both internal and external links.
8. Build Backlinks
Building backlinks is highly essential for creating a winning SEO strategy. It helps with off-page SEO, and it serves to attract links from other websites to your domain.
This will help your content rank higher on search engines. But does it work?
Yes. It does.
The 2020 Backlinko study we mentioned earlier established that web pages with lots of backlinks rank higher on Google than others. In fact, the #1 search result on Google has 3.8-times more backlinks than those in positions #2 to #10:
Image via Backlinko
This sounds great, but how do you go about building backlinks?
There are various ways you can do this, the easiest way when you are just starting is through link exchange. That is, you can ask other local businesses to link to your website while you link to theirs.
Another strategy for building backlinks is by writing quality blog posts and sharing them on social media. Readers and other content creators can stumble upon your piece, use it, and link to your website.
However, you must ensure that your content quality is top-notch, sounds authoritative, and is about current events or news. This increases the chances of other industry experts linking to your article.
Alternative, you can approach other websites for guest-blogging opportunities. This way, you can effectively link back to your website.
It’ll take a while before you realize the full benefits of your link-building efforts. Approximately 51% of marketers say it takes between 1 and 3 months to see the impact of your link-building strategies.
Nevertheless, if you’re unsure of how to go about it, our link building services can come in handy. We’ll help you optimize your SEO strategies and fire up your link-building efforts to dominate internet ranking.
9. Create High-Quality Content
If you want your website to rank high on SERPs, you need to create high-quality content. This means that your content should be well-researched, well-written, and informative.
It should also be worth noting that Google now favors content that’s more comprehensive and in-depth.
A study by Backlinko conducted in 2020 showed that the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,447 words.
The easiest way to frame your content for SEO is by using content clusters. This involves grouping content together under a similar theme. The content, however, should be related to the keywords you researched in Step 4 above.
So, after settling on a specific topic, and the right keywords, you can create pillar content and other small pieces linking to it.
If you are writing about “lead generation”, for instance, you can surround it with other content such as:
- What is lead generation?
- Best lead generation strategies
- How to generate leads for a B2B company, etc.
When you link such content to your pillar content, you are showing search engines that you’re authoritative. As a result, your content will be pushed to the top because of its relevancy. These clusters also make it easy for search engines to crawl your site and find quality solutions to a specific search.
As such, you can easily produce and publish content that matches search intent. That is, content that doesn’t only impress Google, but the needs of your target audience.
Nevertheless, it is important not to over-optimize your content with keywords. Maintain a keyword density of between 1 and 2%. Doing so improves the overall readability and user experience.
10. Keep Your Website User-Friendly
You might have great content on your website, but if it takes ages to load, a user will leave. This is why prioritizing user experience (UX), is vital for your SEO strategy.
A highly responsive website creates a positive experience, and people will spend more time on it. This tells search engines that your site and web pages are relevant and will significantly rank it higher.
So, what do you do to make your website user-friendly?
You optimize your content for on-page SEO. This is the best way to ensure your website is user-friendly. From making it responsive on mobile to adding tags and more, these steps will improve the overall experience.
However, there are other strategies you can implement such as:
- Speed up your website load time – Users expect your page to load within the first 3 seconds, a study by Digital.com analyzing load time for e-commerce websites shows. Have a look at the stats below:
Image via Digital.com
The statistics show that it is easy for a user to leave your website if it doesn’t load fast. It further went on to show that even if users wait for the page to load, up to 79% might not return in future.
Worse still, sites with poor performance leave a negative impression on 45% of the users.
You can easily avoid this by optimizing your content for SEO. Add image tags, choose a fast-hosting solution, compress images and videos, and cache your web pages.
- Keep your content digestible – Use simple vocabulary. Keep it precise and ensure that each sentence provides value. Wherever possible, include industry jargon.
Also, make sure that you include relevant tags, headers, bullet points, and other formatting techniques that’ll make reading easy.
- Ensure your website is easy to navigate – On top of making it mobile-friendly, you should prioritize making the website easy to navigate. Separate sidebars limit the number of your menu items and make hyperlinked text conspicuous. This way, a user doesn’t have to waste time moving from one page to another hunting for information.
- Use colors wisely – Beauty attracts, and this is true for websites too. Give it a blend of clarity and visually appealing accents. First thing is to ensure that your brand colors are dominant.
Then, ensure that the background, the texts, headlines, and other elements are aligned with each other.
HubSpot is a good example of a website that uses colors wisely to maintain good aesthetics:
Image via HubSpot
11. Monitor Your SEO Progress
Congratulations on making it this far on how to create an SEO strategy.
But you’re not done yet.
After you’ve followed all the above steps and implemented your SEO strategy, it’s essential to keep track of its progress.
Monitoring your progress will let you determine the success of your SEO efforts and whether you need to make any adjustments.
You can monitor your specific KPIs such as organic traffic using any of the SEO audit tools we’ve mentioned – Google Analytics, Semrush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest.
Similarly, you should track your indexed pages to determine whether the updated content is now performing. Other metrics to assess include conversions, ROI, your ranking on SERPs, and how you compare with the competition.
Measuring these metrics will help you recognize areas you’re strong and the opportunities for improvement.
Remember, it takes time, effort, and resources to excel at creating a winning SEO strategy. Even if you are a pro, it often follows that as you rank higher for one keyword, your other keyword ranking might drop.
And this is why you should have a cyclical SEO strategy. You have to constantly review your content and update non-performing content.
There’s always room for improvement and ways to drive more growth. As a recommendation, therefore, monitor your SEO progress at least every month to see if you are meeting your goals.
12. Keep Up with the Latest Trends
Due to the constant shift in consumer behavior, technology, and new trends, the world of SEO will continue evolving. Keeping up with the trends, therefore, is crucial to understanding what’s changing and how you can respond.
A good example of such a trend affecting digital marketing is a change in algorithms.
When Google rolls out a new core update, its algorithms often change, and this may affect SEO. This means that your website may do worse regarding search engine ranking.
In 2021, for instance, Google finished rolling out its November Core Update. The new update affected some website rankings and traffic. This was evidenced by the chatter across forums such as BlackHatWorld and WebMasterWorld, among others.
Here’s a snippet of the SEO chatter as compiled by Search Engine Roundtable:
Image via Search Engine Roundtable
For every other update, Google has always recommended that you focus on providing the best content. That’s what algorithms seek to reward.
Apart from algorithms, you should also keep up with other market trends such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs.
So, which resources will help you stay on top of SEO trends?
Glad you asked. Here are a few online platforms to regularly check what’s trending in the SEO world:
13. Work with an SEO Expert
You can skip all these steps and have an expert help you create effective SEO content strategies that rank.
Of course, basic SEO is easy to hack. This is something you and your team can brainstorm and pull off. However, to truly optimize your website and rank on the first page of Google, it’s wise to hire an SEO expert.
By hiring a professional, you can get a full suite of SEO services such as:
- Website SEO audit
- SEO strategy
- Keyword research
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- SEO reporting, and more
Through these services, the company you outsource your SEO services to will help you save time and drive results.
Whether you are looking to rank your business locally or to target a customer’s search query, they’ll help get there. That’s because an SEO service company knows how to help search engines understand your offering and how to match it with audience needs.
How to Maintain the Momentum of Your SEO Strategy
After creating an effective SEO strategy and seeing it win you some rankings, it’s easy to get complacent. But this is where most businesses make a mistake.
Just because you have achieved some SEO success, it doesn’t mean that your work is done. If anything, it’s just the beginning.
To maintain SEO momentum, you need to keep track of your progress and make sure that your SEO efforts are sustainable.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure that your SEO strategy keeps delivering results:
- Create an editorial calendar – This will help you remain consistent in your SEO efforts. In your editorial templates, organize ideas, schedule projects, and publish quality content regularly.
- Keep track of your performance – Use any of your preferred performance monitoring web analytics tools to track the most important metrics such as your ranking, leads, and conversions.
Even if you are ranking high on SERPs, always strive to create new and better content. And while adjusting and updating your content, follow the steps outlined above to maintain your position and web presence.
- Keep competing for keywords – Identify hot topics by looking at your competitors and other highly performing websites.
Then use tools such as Semrush, Ubbersuggest, and Ahrefs to research keywords and create quality content that’ll interest your audience.
That said, creating SEO content that ranks is a perpetual process. A little complacency may lead to a drop in traffic and in turn, your sales and revenue.
Q1. What is SEO strategy?
A. An SEO strategy refers to a plan of action businesses implement to improve a website’s ranking on search engines.
Q2. What is SEO checklist?
A. An SEO checklist is a list of items that you need to check or do to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines.
Q3. How do you create an effective SEO strategy?
A. You can create an effective SEO strategy by:
- Analyzing your current SEO performance
- Conducting a competitive analysis
- Researching your audience
- Defining your SEO goals
- Researching the right keywords
- Optimizing your website for on-page SEO
- Improving the existing content on your website
- Building backlinks
- Creating high-quality content
- Keeping your website user-friendly
- Monitoring your SEO progress and adjusting where necessary
- Keeping up with the latest trends, or
- Working with an SEO expert
Q4. What are the 3 important components in SEO strategy?
A. Website optimization, publishing regular and quality content, and link building are the top 3 SEO strategies.
Q5. What are the 4 main components of SEO?
A. The 4 main components of an SEO include:
- Technical SEO – website speeds, tags, web architecture, etc.
- On-page SEO – keywords, tags, images, URLs, internal links, etc.
- Content – quality and relevance of your website posts
- Off-page SEO – backlinks, guest posts, among others
Q6. How do I start my own SEO?
A. Start by setting your goals. Then research keywords, publish quality and optimized content, then analyze your backlinks and explore your website’s technical issues. Monitor your progress and stay informed of any SEO trends.
Ready to Start Creating SEO Content that Ranks?
SEO is constantly evolving and it can be hard to keep up with the latest changes. However, if you have a sound strategy in place and are willing to put in the effort, you can maintain your website’s momentum.
So, why not get started with the above tips?
It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give you a head start. And don’t forget, if you ever get stuck or need help, our search engine optimization services will help.
Reach out and we can help you create content that ranks higher and faster on Google while you focus on what you do best.
Thanks for reading!