Invisibility is poison for a brand struggling to grow and earn market share. If your target audience doesn't see you at critical moments in their buyer's journey, it's like you don't even exist. Without online credibility, authority, and visibility earned through SEO strategy, it’s difficult to convert or close a deal. Everything you do in marketing is more complicated and exhausting.
SEO strategy remedies invisibility, and it's critical for brands investing in growth marketing.
A search engine optimization strategy is the practice of improving your website’s ranking and appearance on the search engine results page. It’s all about aligning the content you create with your ideal customers.
An SEO strategy will help you clarify and act on the following information:
SEO revolves around user experience. It’s about creating people-first content. But it still requires research, testing, technical optimizations, and content marketing expertise.
No matter what you may have heard, keywords still matter. You can’t create people-first content without knowing what people search for and how they use the info. Keyword research answers these questions.
On top of that, your website must deliver an amazing user experience that people remember and want to come back for. When your SEO strategies keep that focus, everyone wins.
SEO strategy helps you meet the marketing goals that impact your company’s bottom line, like:
The benefits of SEO strategy start with more website traffic. In today’s digital world, no marketer will say no to more traffic.
But all traffic isn’t created equal. The source of your website traffic impacts its quality. And when higher quality traffic comes in, that quality cascades down your whole funnel to increase conversion rates and retention.
When you do SEO right, the organic traffic it brings in is higher quality than, say, advertising traffic. Why? Think of it this way. Every time someone clicks an ad, you're trying to build credibility from scratch. When was the last time you built a meaningful relationship with someone in a few minutes?
Advertising is also an expensive way to get traffic. And when you stop your campaign, the traffic stops flowing in. By contrast, using SEO as an evergreen marketing tactic is a gift that keeps giving long-term.
Here’s how to design an SEO marketing strategy.
Nearly 70% of online experiences begin with search. And as technologies like voice search become more ubiquitous, that will increase.
What’s more, 91% of websites get no search traffic because they’re not ranking for any relevant keywords. As a marketer, you must have a strategy to insert yourself into your audience’s online experiences. Because it’s not going to happen on its own.
That’s where your SEO plan comes in. Having a solid plan in place will improve three crucial areas for your brand:
These three together make you hyper-relevant in the eyes of your potential customers. They generate the benefits of SEO.
There are four categories of SEO strategy in digital marketing.
When launching a new SEO strategy or auditing previous efforts, we often start with technical optimization. That’s because a solid technical foundation is table stakes to play the SEO game.
Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin said, “Technical SEO is like the plumbing of a website… it’s crucial to ensuring everything runs smoothly and efficiently.” Creating content and building backlinks are essential strategies, but they’re only as strong as the tech they run on.
If your website has technical issues, it’s a big red flag to search engine algorithms. And that means the content you worked so hard on has a slim chance of ranking.
Here are the most important technical SEO aspects to include in your strategy.
Technical SEO is important because user experience is important. It’s one of Google’s top priorities when deciding which content to show searchers.
Content is the backbone of on-page SEO. But by itself, great content isn’t enough to get you all the benefits of a comprehensive SEO strategy. You need a keyword-driven content strategy focused on quality.
Which, of course, starts with research.
There are many keyword research tools out there. Google’s free keyword planner is a great place to start. Competitor research is another way to contextualize your own content strategy. What kinds of keywords are in your competitors’ ad copy and SERP headlines?
Use your keyword tool of choice to answer these three key questions:
Once you have enough info to select some target keywords, it’s time to get down to business and start creating high-quality content.
What, exactly, is high-quality content? This isn’t a nebulous concept that marketers have to guess at and hope for the best. As the world’s largest search engine, Google has put out extensive information on what it considers when judging content quality.
In late 2022, Google’s “helpful content update” confirmed its intention to focus on people-first content. It’s becoming impossible to trick search engines with the black hat SEO techniques of yesteryear as the algorithms learn what’s truly helpful for users.
In the helpful content update, Google suggests creating content for people, not search engines. It also reminds marketers to rely on the E-E-A-T framework to ensure their content shows:
One effective content strategy is the pillar (or cornerstone) method. To start, create one substantial post for a keyword you'd really like to rank. Then create several related sub-topic posts. Link these other posts to your pillar.
This method maximizes your ROI because the supporting posts are faster and easier. But they increase the authority of the pillar they link to.
Of course, your content will be the most “helpful” if it shows up to the people who will benefit from it most: your ideal customers. And since you know exactly what keywords they’re using, you’re ready to optimize.
Be sure your focus keyword is naturally woven into these areas of your content:
Now the fun part: off-page. What is off-page SEO? In a nutshell, backlinks.
You can spend all day talking about how great your own content is. But there’s a reason why 82% of consumers trust reviews, and only 4% trust ads - credibility.
When ranking your content, search engines look for signs that other users have found it helpful. Lots of relevant links from high-authority websites are a big green flag.
To be clear: backlinks aren’t just a ranking factor. They’re critical. Inbound links show you're connected to a community. Your content has authority with the people who matter.
Links also show who you're associating with. Links from spammy, untrustworthy sites may hurt your ranking more than help. You want links from relevant web pages on mid- to high-authority websites.
Backlinks come from other websites you do not own.
Of course, Google wasn’t born yesterday. Backlinks you can easily build yourself (social media, Quora, ads) don’t carry the same weight as a link created by others because they appreciate your website. Still, they don’t hurt.
Backlinks can be tough to get, but the payoff is worth it. You can earn them through link-building strategies like:
The last one is a more invested strategy. But it's also the most effective. It's often employed by SEO agencies supporting many clients.
Any business operating locally can’t afford to skip local SEO. By targeting users searching for location-specific keywords, you can lower your marketing expenses and make sure your brand shows up in the right place at the right time.
How? For starters, claim your Google Business Profile and complete the information. This will ensure your business listing shows up by the map when users search for local keywords.
If there are particular keywords you know you want to rank for, be sure to include them in the services or description of your listing.
Focusing on these areas will also boost your rankings in local SEO results.
To create an SEO strategy, start by identifying your goals and ideal customer profile. Then, invest some resources into researching your ideal customer. This investment is either your own time, money on SEO tools, or outsourcing the work to an agency.
Your research will provide context to help you determine which elements of your SEO strategy are the most important. From there, you can prioritize the four types of SEO we’ve discussed.
For SEO beginners, all the strategies and tactics can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to come up with your process from scratch. There are many checklists and frameworks out there for beginners.
Here are the basic steps to follow when you’re starting out.
Researching keywords and creating a content plan is a fundamental example of SEO strategy. Let’s say your gym offers exercise classes for night owls. Your approach might look something like this.
The most effective SEO strategy in 2023 and beyond will focus on content quality. As search engines become more sophisticated and the digital world gets more flooded with content, the very best content will rise to the top.
The brands that win will be the ones that have an SEO strategy rooted in understanding their customer and content niche. Then, on that foundation, they’re willing to test new tactics and keep up with trends.
Tracking progress is critical to meeting goals with SEO. You'll have trouble influencing a metric if you can't measure it. And you certainly won't be able to test or optimize.
There are advanced tools available, but for starters, you need to make sure these free analytics tools are set up on your website.
Think about what KPIs you want to track. For SEO, track conversions, ranking, organic traffic, and new subscribers to your blog or email list.
Research is at the heart of a thoughtful SEO strategy. To some extent, you can do SEO research and optimizations on your own if you have the time to invest.
Eventually, you’ll need SEO tools to boost your efforts. There are free and paid tools available. The cost and functionality vary, but most fall into one of these categories:
Many of the household names in SEO offer all-in-one solutions to help with all these phases of the process. Should you invest in one of these platforms? Perhaps, if you have the budget and the internal resources to use it.
Alternatively, you can put together an efficient plan by paying for specialized tools where you need them most. If you have a larger budget but no internal SEO professional, you might choose to hire an agency.
Nobody’s perfect. But when it comes to SEO strategy, mistakes can be costly. Here are some common SEO mistakes to avoid.
The field of SEO moves fast. If you want your SEO strategy to keep performing and remain relevant, you must stay on top of changes and trends. Here are a few of our predictions for 2023 and beyond.
An effective growth strategy includes visibility, authority, and credibility. Growth-minded businesses focus on reducing customer acquisition costs to maximize ROI. They do this by investing in sustainable, long-term branding strategies - like SEO.
An effective SEO strategy emphasizes manageable growth through fantastic customer experience.
It builds your brand on a firm foundation and creates a brand that attracts trust and loyalty through your authentic desire to help customers. It focuses on creating a welcoming and relevant user experience for your target audience.
Without these features, it’s just not SEO. And without SEO, your brand is invisible.