Organic SEO is a powerful way to gain authority in your industry. But how do you improve something that happens naturally?
Contrary to what the name implies, there are many ways you can influence the organic search traffic that comes from search engine optimization. If you’re trying to boost your SEO strategy, you want to keep organic SEO techniques in the mix.
What Is Organic SEO?
Most people are familiar with the term “organic SEO.” But coming up with a definition can be a bit confusing.
We prefer to define organic SEO by its results. Organic SEO strategy engages in activities that help your online content show up in search engine ranking. In other words, when you have good organic SEO, Google search and other search engines place the links and metadata from your content higher on their search engine results pages.
Why Is Organic SEO Important?
Organic SEO is a critical behind-the-scenes element of any effective digital marketing campaign. Once again, when done properly, organic SEO leverages the power of things like hyperlinks, keywords, search intent, and Google Analytics data to optimize your web assets.
Many people talk about organic SEO in terms of website traffic. But it also includes related items like CTR (clickthrough rate — that is, how often people who see your links click on them), heat mapping (where a person navigates to on a web page), and dwell time (how long a visitor spends on a site).
Higher CTR means more traffic. Heat maps can help you position on-page content for optimal conversions. Higher dwell time means your giving visitors the content that they’re looking for.
When you track and optimize all of these organic search engine optimization elements, you can dramatically increase the impact of your digital marketing investments and your position in a search result.
What Are Organic SEO Techniques?
As you might expect, organic SEO happens organically. At least, that’s how it appears when compared to something like PPC (pay per click) advertising, where you pay for each click that your google ads and links generate.
In contrast, organic SEO happens simply because you’ve optimized your content marketing enough for search engines to find it and offer it to searchers as a potential answer for their related queries. That means a search engine like Google is directing visitors to your content not because you paid for that traffic, but because of the content itself.
While this appears “organic” on the surface, organic SEO is actually powered by fantastically sophisticated algorithms. These use certain indicators, such as user behavior, a keyword phrase, and backlinks, to decide what content to offer searchers.
That means, if you know enough about how those algorithms respond to certain inputs, you can create content that is specifically primed to attract organic attention — something referred to as organic search techniques.
5 Organic Search Techniques to Boost SEO
There are many techniques you can use to improve your organic SEO. These typically fall into three categories:
Here are some of the most common SEO tips and techniques that you can use to take your organic search traffic to the next level.
1. A Technical SEO Audit
Start by making sure (or hiring an SEO company to make sure) your site’s structure is sound. Test everything from website speed to navigation, mobile-friendliness, and accessibility.
2. Keyword Optimization
When creating content, consider the keywords that you should include. This doesn’t mean you should stuff your content with the same words over and over again. You always want to prioritize the user experience first. However, make sure you’re also deliberately using the best words and phrases related to your topic. Some upfront keyword research is key here.
3. Search Intent
The customer is always right. It’s a mantra used in sales — and it applies to SEO, too. What are your website visitors looking for? Say they search “work out” in an attempt to learn more about exercising. They’ll likely want something more informative than if they search the term “running shoes to buy.” Fashion quality content around the intent with which they’ll search for those answers online to be the most helpful.
Backlinking (also called “external linking”) is a powerful way to boost your website’s authority via other authoritative websites. This happens when you get a brand mention or have a hyperlink that points back to your site (or ideally both) on high authority publications. This digitally associates your brand with their pre-established search engine prowess, boosting your own site’s rankings in the process. It also signals to Google that whatever you have linked is a helpful resource, all of which Google appreciates.
5. Internal Links
Hyperlinks can also help your organic SEO right on your website. Internal links take place when you link to various pages across your site within your own content — like this. Think of internal links like a spiderweb. As you criss cross the various threads of your content, it strengthens the authority of the entire website, in addition to making it easier for users to find helpful information.
Mastering Your Organic SEO Strategy
Organic SEO is the lifeblood of many companies. As such, you don’t want to leave such an important part of your business to the whims of the interweb.
Use the suggestions above to weave organic SEO techniques into your larger digital marketing strategy. That way, over time, you will strengthen your website’s natural presence on the web and establish your brand’s high quality content as an authoritative and popular source of solutions for your audience.
Take a look at any “SEO checklist” and you’ll find hundreds of factors you could include in an SEO strategy. It can be hard to know where to start. As you’re evaluating search engine optimization techniques, here are the five most important factors to consider.
What are the 5 SEO factors?
Here are the main factors to think about as you’re building your plan of attack.
1. Strong technical foundation
The best integrated SEO plans are built on a solid technical foundation. Content-focused marketers might be tempted to ignore technical SEO (or at least save it for last). But it’s the cornerstone of high-ranking content.
That’s because search engines have gotten very good at identifying a great user experience. If Google sends a user to a poorly-designed website, the user is less likely to trust Google to provide the best search results. Therefore, if your website has technical issues or inefficiencies, your content won’t rank well, no matter how expertly-crafted it is.
For these reasons, it’s crucial to check table-stakes technical SEO elements like website speed, site structure, mobile-friendliness, and accessibility.
2. Keyword-optimized content matched to search intent
We talk a lot about keyword optimization in SEO. Why are keyword research and optimization so important?
Keyword research is valuable because it’s a kind of prospect research. As marketers, we’re sometimes removed from the audience we’re targeting. Unlike sales or customer service, we don’t interact with our prospects and customers every day. This distance can cause us to drift from research and start relying on assumptions.
Consistently including a keyword research step in your SEO strategy helps you validate your assumptions. It allows you to ask, “What topic is our audience actually searching for? What kind of language do they use when searching?”
A key part of keyword search is identifying search intent. Look at the types of keywords your audience uses. Are they informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional? Then, craft your content using this research.
3. On-site interlinking
When it comes to linking strategy in SEO, we sometimes jump straight to backlinks. But on-site interlinking also plays an important role in ranking.
Building links between your own website content helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website. From Google’s perspective, on-site interlinking passes link equity back and forth between your pieces of content.
Interlinking also improves your website’s user experience by making it easier to navigate. Think about it this way: New content you create is probably related to other content you’ve already published. Maybe the two topics are laterally connected, or maybe one piece is a deep dive into a concept mentioned in the other.
Users who landed on one piece from a Google search may not know about the other piece. It’s important to connect the two via on-site interlinking.
Of course, you can spend all day linking to your own content internally. But there’s a reason why 82% of consumers trust reviews and only 4% trust ads. What other people say about you is simply more credible than what you say about yourself.
That’s why building backlinks is one of the most important off-page SEO factors. Search engines view backlinks as a sign that others have found your content helpful.
If your strategy is to publish excellent content and sit back as the backlinks flow in, you’re missing opportunities. There are sites out there with an audience that would love your new content. But that publisher likely won’t find your content without a friendly introduction.
5. Helpful content
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about content. Great content can’t accomplish your SEO goals by itself. But it’s a vital component of your strategy. If you don’t get content right, the other factors we’ve discussed won’t matter.
What makes content helpful in the eyes of search engines? We don’t have to take a shot in the dark to answer this. Google has shared that it uses its E-E-A-T framework to judge content’s quality.
- Expertise: The creator is an expert on the topic.
- Experience: They have firsthand experience with the topic.
- Authoritativeness: The creator and the hosting website demonstrate authority.
- Trustworthiness: The creator and website are reliable and credible.
Publishing helpful content is the bread and butter of on-page SEO. Let’s dig a bit deeper into these concepts.
Why on-page SEO is important
Improving on-page SEO factors can boost your content’s chance of ranking at the top of the SERP. Here are the three most important SEO ranking factors for your content.
What are the 3 most important ranking factors in on-page SEO writing?
There are many ranking factors in SEO. Here are the three most important for writing content.
Your content should be:
- Written to search intent. If your user is looking for information with their search, your content shouldn’t focus on a transaction.
- Focused on a keyword. Here’s where your keyword research comes in. Crafting your content with a focus keyword in mind is much easier than retroactively optimizing it. Include your keyword in the title, URL, headers, meta description, and image tags.
- Helpful. Your content is easy to read, educational, and credible. It includes fresh insights and perspectives.
Your 5 steps to success
As you develop an SEO marketing strategy, focus on the five SEO factors we’ve discussed. There are lots of optimization opportunities in each of these areas. But having a roadmap will help you ensure you’re putting your effort and resources toward a well-rounded strategy.
If you’re a marketer focused on content creation, the idea of optimizing the technical details of your content might make you freeze like a deer in the headlights. But creating amazing content without optimizing it for search is like cooking a delicious meal and neglecting to give your guests any silverware.
Technical SEO and on-page SEO are the forks and knives that search engines need to find and rank your content. And higher rankings mean more traffic for your site.
What is SEO and how it works
SEO is the process of optimizing your website content to improve its ranking and appearance in search engine results. What is SEO ranking and how can you build an SEO strategy that boosts your content to the top for the right searches?
There are four types of SEO: on-page, technical, off-page, and local. If you’re newer to SEO, it makes sense to start with the two types you have the most control over - technical SEO and on-page SEO. Let’s take a look at both and explore some best practices.
What is technical SEO and on-page SEO?
Technical and on-page SEO are the two types of SEO that happen on your own online real estate. That means you have the most power to impact them and can start making improvements today.
Technical SEO involves optimizing the technical infrastructure of your site. The importance of technical SEO is twofold, because it:
- Improves user experience. Features like clear navigation, short load time, and mobile-friendliness remove friction from people’s experience using your website.
- Helps search engines crawl your site. To show your content in search results, Google has to be able to find it, index it, and easily tell what it is.
Like technical SEO, on-page SEO also improves user experience. It involves creating high-quality content focused on a keyword or closely-related group of keywords. Because search engine algorithms are better than ever at identifying valuable content, on-page SEO is foundational to your content marketing strategy.
How do I audit technical SEO?
There are hundreds of optimizations you could make to perfect your website’s infrastructure. For many marketers, a technical SEO audit feels like a daunting task. But there are a few technical SEO factors that are often “quick wins” for first-time auditors.
- Speed optimization: If your content takes 90 seconds to load, it won’t rank in any search engine results regardless of its quality. Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool can show you which content is loading slowly on your site.
- Mobile optimization: More than half of internet traffic today is mobile. If your site doesn’t work well on a phone, you can kiss ranking goodbye.
- Structure and navigation: A straightforward site structure has benefits for both human users and search engine crawlers. Keep your URLs descriptive and short. Organize your navigation as clearly as possible.
- Fix crawl errors: If search engines run into issues crawling your site in the first place, you’re unlikely to rank. Make sure your site is connected to Google Search Console and use the “Not indexed” page category to identify these issues.
Once you’ve fixed existing technical issues, it’s easier to keep them in line for future content.
What is an on-page SEO strategy?
On-page SEO starts with thorough keyword research. You can research keywords for your content with a few simple (and free!) tactics:
- Use keyword research tools. Some of our favorites: Google Trends, AnswerThePublic, and Wordstream.
- Snoop on your competitors. Browse their blog content and search their brand to see the headlines they’re using.
- Fall back to your customer research. Look at customer satisfaction survey results to get a sense of their vocabulary and their top concerns.
Once you’ve identified a target keyword for your content, it’s time to focus on quality. High-quality content educates and entertains your reader. It includes a mix of internal and external links. While the content can be thought-provoking or challenging, the language shouldn’t be. Keep things simple, scannable, and easy to read.
Weave your keyword naturally into your content. If you’ve done your research and selected an appropriate keyword, things should fall into place. Your keyword should appear in the following areas:
- Meta description
- Image tags
It’s important to review all these elements before publishing your content. Tools like the Yoast WordPress plugin can help you systematize this process.
What is an off-page SEO strategy?
Since we’ve covered on-page SEO, it’s worth answering: What is off-page SEO? This part of your SEO strategy is more akin to PR - but it does integrate elements of on-page and technical SEO.
A search engine’s goal is to show users credible and authoritative content in their results. One way Google judges this is backlinks - links to your content from other sites. Off-page SEO involves creating linkable content and then deploying a backlink strategy.
Earning backlinks is a relational task that requires getting into the heads of publishers and other marketers. Start by identifying trustworthy, popular sites that your target audience is visiting. Track down the person responsible for their digital content, and reach out with a backlink request. We outlined approaches and specific examples in this post, What are examples of SEO marketing?
Help your audience dig in to your content
If you’re creating content, you must understand how to get it in front of your target audience. Technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO all work together to get your content ranking on the right keyword searches. Put it all together, and you’ll be serving up your content to potential buyers in no time.
In today’s digital world, search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential part of your marketing strategy. Just how technical does SEO get? And what kinds of optimizations should you make on your website? Let’s talk about technical SEO and how it fits into your SEO plan.
What is the difference between technical SEO and SEO?
The field of SEO is expansive. There are four types of SEO, and technical SEO is one of them. As a whole, “SEO” also includes on-page, off-page, and local SEO.
Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your site’s backend to improve your rankings on the search engine results page (SERP). While technical SEO is its own category, all four types of SEO have technical elements.
Examples of the overlap between technical SEO and other SEO types
Here are some technical SEO examples that illustrate its overlap with the other types of SEO.
How to do a technical SEO audit
If you’re familiar with SEO strategy, you know how important it is to audit your existing content and optimize new pieces. The technical side is no exception. A regular technical SEO audit can help you ensure that your digital content is getting the exposure it deserves.
Here are 6 types of technical SEO to include in your audit:
- Site speed optimization: A faster load speed signifies a better user experience to Google’s crawlers.
- Mobile optimization: The majority of internet traffic is now mobile, so algorithms put significant weight on mobile-friendliness.
- Clear site structure: Simplifying your structure benefits both people and search engines. Clear up convoluted pathways to content and use short, descriptive URLs.
- Minimal crawl errors: Broken links, missing pages, and duplicate content all hurt your site’s chances of ranking on the SERP.
As discussed, there are technical SEO factors that overlap with on-page and off-page SEO. You can include these in your technical SEO audit to make sure your bases are covered.
5. Keywords in metadata: Your focus keyword should appear in your content’s title, headers, body, meta description, URL, image tags.
6. Backlink anchor text: As you work with publishers and partners to post backlinks, it’s crucial to specify the anchor text as best you can. That means making sure your focus keyword appears at the beginning of the text linking to your content
Why a technical SEO audit is important
The benefits of technical SEO are significant, but it’s often more “behind the scenes.” Marketers are less likely to notice issues and opportunities. For example, if you’re in your CMS every day managing your website, you might not notice that your site structure has gradually gotten a bit messy.
That’s why it’s important to perform regular audits - we recommend at least quarterly.
Is technical SEO part of on-page SEO?
Technical SEO and on-page SEO are considered two different categories under the same umbrella. The difference between technical SEO and on-page SEO is simply the level of technicality.
On-page SEO is typically more content-focused. It involves some technical aspects but centers on choosing the right keyword and creating content that will appeal to search engine algorithms. It includes activities like:
- Researching keywords that your target audience is likely to search and selecting a focus keyword for each piece of content
- Creating high-quality content that’s educational, entertaining, and easy to read
- Incorporating your focus keyword into your content and the associated metadata fields
Technical SEO applies to specific pieces of content but also to your broader website in terms of optimizing a holistic user experience. Many overarching aspects of technical SEO affect every single piece of content on your site, such as:
- Site speed
- Mobile optimization
- Navigational structure
While technical SEO can be part of your on-page SEO process, it also expands beyond that into sitewide optimizations.
Technical SEO is essential to your marketing plan
As a modern marketer, it’s important to be comfortable with the technical aspects of SEO as well as the non-technical ones. While technical SEO is considered its own SEO category, there are technical elements in every other category, too. So don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get technical - the algorithms (and your chief revenue officer) will thank you!
Today’s marketers know that search engine optimization is table stakes for a successful integrated marketing strategy. Here are some examples of how to strengthen your plan with SEO strategy .
Examples of search engine optimization
SEO is a wide field that involves technical optimizations on the back end and improvements to the reader’s experience on the front end. There are four types of SEO : on-page, off-page, technical, and local.
What are examples of SEO marketing?
Here are some examples of how to incorporate the four types of SEO into your marketing.
Example of on-page SEO
You probably know that SEO marketing involves keywords. The most common example of on-page SEO is optimizing a piece of content to a specific keyword. For example, if you’re publishing a blog post about making your own ice cream, your keyword might be “homemade ice cream.” You’d include that keyword in your post’s title, slug, meta description, headers, and body.
Examples of SEO keywords
In this example, your keyword is “homemade ice cream.” This is an informational keyword. If a user searches for it, they’re probably looking for information on how to make homemade ice cream. Once they find the info they need, their search will be complete.
Keywords are all about intent. Here are some other types of keywords:
- Informational keywords : A user is looking for information or to answer a question. Example: “homemade ice cream”
- Navigational keywords : A user intends to find a specific site or page. Example: “allrecipes ice cream”
- Commercial keywords : A searcher is investigating a brand or service. Example: “ben and jerry’s chunky monkey”
- Transactional keywords : A searcher intends to complete an action. Example: “rocky road ice cream delivery”
Understanding a users search intent will help you tailor your content to their goals and amplify your SEO performance.
Example of off page SEO
Your off page SEO strategy involves link building – links from external sites to the web page with your content. Also known as backlinks, this seo tool can help you gain visibility from social media or other websites. Once you’ve published your article on how to make homemade ice cream, you can maximize backlinks by:
- Sharing the article on your own social pages. Write the post in a way that engages and sparks conversation.
- Example: Melting in today’s sweltering summer heat? Cool off with some homemade ice cream. What’s your favorite flavor? Comment to let us know and be sure to share this recipe with the ice cream lover in your life!
- Identifying external sites with your target audience interested in your content. Reach out to the publisher and suggest they link to your content. Be sure to clarify how it benefits their audience!
- Example: Hi there [name], I found your article “26 family-friendly activities to try at home this summer” and I’m loving all these ideas! We just published a beginner’s guide to making homemade ice cream. I think it would be a great addition to your list under #17 – involve your kids in the kitchen. We’d love to share this resource with your readers. What do you think?
Example of technical SEO
The goal of technical SEO is to help search engines index your site more effectively. One example of technical SEO is submitting a sitemap. A sitemap helps Google index your site by telling it where the most important content is. Even if you’re not a developer, you can create an XML sitemap file and submit it using Google Search Console.
Example of local SEO
One of the most ubiquitous examples of local SEO is claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile. If a user searches “where to get ice cream,” several Google Business results show up. Your Google Business Profile is a complement to your website and social media. Claim your profile to ensure your business appears on the SERP for users looking for your products or services in your area.
SEO marketing strategy
Some of your goals in digital marketing strategy are to increase website traffic and increase conversions to bring in more revenue for your business. SEO can help you achieve all these.
How is SEO used in digital marketing?
Creating high quality content that’s optimized for search can grow your organic traffic over time. And best of all? It’s not just random traffic. You can control who your SEO content brings to your website.
How? By getting clear on the intent behind your keywords. Before you start creating your content, you should know its keyword and the searcher’s intent. This will help you target exactly the kind of user you want to bring to your site – one who’s more likely to take the action that will help you reach your goals.
What is bad SEO?
All SEO tactics are not created equal. The foundation of “good SEO” is user experience. Publishing quality content and making your website easy to use are examples of good SEO.
On the other side of the coin, some techniques are considered bad SEO or “ black hat SEO .” Generally, if your intention is anything other than being helpful, your tactic is probably sketchy. This includes activities like keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects, buying links, and pages with malicious behavior.
Do bad SEO tactics work? You might see some SEO success, but it's not sustainable. And tinkering with them can damage your brand’s reputation with both users and search engines. Google’s algorithm gets more sophisticated with every update, and these activities are all on the naughty list.
SEO example website
What does a well-optimized website look like in practice? Most mid-sized companies have put significant effort into SEO. But some of the best examples out there are B2C companies offering high-ticket products and services. The value of getting a user to their website is astronomical.
One of our favorite examples? Personal injury lawyers. For a masterclass in SEO, Google “got hurt at a theme park” and check out any of the top results.
Find examples of SEO marketing in your industry
To spark ideas for your own business, simply search the relevant keyword you’re targeting with your own SEO strategy. Now that you know what to look for, your cup will runneth over with optimizations to make on your own website.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key element of digital marketing. You might know that an effective SEO strategy involves optimizing your website to improve its rank in search engine results. But did you know that there are four types of SEO?
If you’re new to SEO, consider starting with our primer, What is SEO marketing for beginners? If you’ve mastered the basics and are ready to dig deeper, you’re in the right place. Let’s dig into the four types of search engine optimization.
What are the 4 types of SEO?
Search engine optimization can be broken down into four categories:
- On page SEO
- Off page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Local SEO
The most effective SEO marketing strategies use all four types in tandem. Let’s take a look at how each SEO technique helps you get more qualified traffic to your website and build your brand.
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO includes the SEO tactic you probably think of first when you hear “SEO.” It starts with high-quality content. Typically a blog post, high quality content helps position your brand as an industry leader. Search engine algorithms are more sophisticated than ever, and Google gets better at recognizing truly valuable content with every update. The days of tricking search engines with black hat SEO techniques are dead and buried (RIP). If you want to show up in a search result, practicing white hat seo techniques is key.
What is high quality content? You’re on the right track with your content if it:
- Centers on one keyword phrase or theme
- Educates or entertains your reader (or both!)
- Has credibility indicators like original research and citations
- Includes new insights rather than regurgitated info
High quality content is also easy to read. Think proper grammar, short sentences, numbered lists, scannable headers, and credible outbound links.
Including keywords in your content
Your focus keyword and closely-related keywords should appear in all the following areas:
- Title tag
- Slug (URL)
- Meta description
Including your keyword shouldn’t be difficult or unnatural. If you’ve created a focused, high-quality piece, it should happen almost organically. But it’s important to review all these elements before finalizing your content to ensure it’s optimized.
How do you decide which keywords to focus your content around? Ask yourself: What would a users search intent be if they were looking for this content? What types of keywords would they use – informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional?
Here are a few tips for researching keywords :
- Use keyword research tools – there are free and paid tools, including Google Trends
- Check out the keywords your competitors are using
- Consider using long-tail keywords (phrases that are longer and more specific)
2. Off page SEO
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.
Search engines look for signs that other users have found your content helpful: backlinks (links from external sites). For this reason, creating linkable content is the foundation of off page SEO.
Wait. What’s the difference between high quality content and linkable content? If your content meets the quality indicators above, you’re halfway there. But as Barbra Streisand lamented, “being good isn’t good enough” when you’re trying to get to the top of the SERP.
Linkable SEO content has been specifically crafted to attract attention and – you guessed it – earn backlinks. It might include:
- Focus on data
- Quotes from industry leaders
- Podcasts, videos, and other engaging media
Building your backlink strategy
Once you’ve crafted your high-quality, linkable content… you’re not done yet. Your content will likely earn some backlinks just because it’s amazing (like you). But to get the most out of the content you worked so hard on, you should try to get as many backlinks as you can.
Link building isn't just about having great SEO content. To get more backlinks, identify trustworthy, popular sites within your space. Track down who’s responsible for their digital content, and craft an email. Ask them to consider linking to your content. Include a summary, how it benefits their readers, and where the link could go. Be specific, including the anchor text (the text that links to your content) you’d prefer them to use.
3. Technical SEO
After keyword optimization, technical SEO is probably the next thing that comes to mind when you hear SEO. To make the most of your content, it’s important to make sure your website meets modern technical requirements. That means optimizing elements like:
- Site structure
- URL structure
- Loading speed
- Mobile performance
These components are important to search engine algorithms because they impact accessibility and user experience. Your content might be brimming with unique insights… but if it takes 90 seconds to load, most users won’t stick around to find out.
Run a SEO analysis and make sure you’re following web design best practices. Your topics and audience should be clear. Simplify your site structure as much as possible to focus on the essentials. To get a sense of technical performance, run your site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool .
4. Local SEO
The fourth type of SEO is local SEO . This area doesn’t apply to all businesses, but it’s could benefit a small business or any business that serves customers in a particular geographic area. The most important factors in local SEO are proximity, relevance, and prominence.
In general, improving the first three types of SEO will help boost your brand in local SEO results as well. You’ll want to focus on these particular areas:
- Creating high quality content that includes local keywords
- Having active social media accounts
- Optimizing your website for mobile
Optimizing for local SEO can lower your content marketing expenses since it allows you to focus on targeted geographic areas.
What is the most important aspect of SEO?
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to SEO in marketing , and there are specialists in each of these four categories. So what’s the most important lesson here?
In the end, SEO strategy is all about the user experience. As search engines become more sophisticated, the gap closes between what’s prioritized by the algorithm and what’s helpful to the user.
When it comes to SEO best practices, the most important is making sure your website is easy to use and meets your audience’s expectations. Keeping your customers top of mind is a north star that won’t steer you wrong as you navigate the deep waters of SEO.
You know what they say: Nobody’s perfect. Marketers are no exception. But when it comes to your SEO strategy, the first five organic search results get nearly 70% of the clicks. When ranking is more important than ever, mistakes can cost you.
Here are some of the most common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them.
What is the main mistake of SEO that companies make?
The journey to the top of the SERP is a winding road, and there are many opportunities to wander off the path. What is the most common SEO mistake companies make?
If you take a wrong turn in the first five minutes of a road trip, everything you do after that will be off. Your SEO strategy is the same way. The early steps are where mistakes can have the biggest impact.
We’ve found the main SEO mistake companies make is targeting the wrong keywords. It’s not that these folks are totally off base. They’re not cosmetics companies targeting pet food keywords.
They’re just… not totally on base either. They’ve missed the mark on identifying the most valuable keywords with the most opportunity.
Companies making this mistake have often based their keyword strategy on shooting for the stars. They target the keywords with the most volume. After all, that’s the biggest pie - surely there’s a little sliver available for them?
Unfortunately, those keywords are also the most difficult to rank for. The brands at the top of the SERP are usually monoliths with decades of built-up authority and marketing budgets in the millions.
How to choose the right target keywords
How can you narrow down your target keywords and choose one you actually have a chance of ranking for? Look for longer-tail keywords that are specific to your audience and content niche.
Don’t be afraid of low volume keywords. These show up in your keyword research tool as having low search volume, but the truth is that these can be amazing opportunities. The “low” just means volume data is unavailable because a low number of people are searching for that term. In reality, you could convert a large portion of those users with the right content.
Which are the most costly mistakes in SEO?
SEO is “organic,” but that doesn’t mean it’s free. It takes time and expertise to pull off a comprehensive SEO strategy. And all the moving pieces are connected - so mistakes in one area can throw off progress in another. From this point of view, any major SEO problems can cost your organization.
However, the most costly SEO mistakes occur when you start putting a ton of resources toward a promotion tactic without also first focusing on content quality. This might mean buying low-quality backlinks or churning out low-effort content just for the sake of backlinks.
How to earn backlinks with high-quality content
Creating linkable, high-quality content is an essential first step to building backlinks. The best backlinks are earned, not bought. But that doesn’t mean it won’t take effort to earn them.
The bulk of your backlink strategy should be organic through creating great content and pitching it to publishers. Relationship building can make this process much smoother.
What are some on-page SEO mistakes?
Many common mistakes happen “on page” - right there in your content. These are usually issues with on-page or technical SEO. One of the top essentials that some beginners miss is including the target keyword in meta data fields.
Another common on-page SEO issue is not matching content to keyword intent. We’ve seen excellent content that’s optimized to the target keyword… but it doesn’t match the keyword’s search intent.
For example, a user who searches for “best running shoes for long distance” probably intends to make a purchase with the information they find.
If you write content that talks generally about what makes a good long-distance running shoe, it could rank for that keyword. But it’s lacking key information that the searcher will miss: top brands, specific shoes, reviews and ratings.
In this example, the searcher would likely look at your content, see that it doesn’t have what they need, and click back to the SERP for another resource. This is a big red flag to Google’s algorithm and it will start to notice that your content isn’t meeting expectations.
How to optimize content to keyword and search intent
To optimize your content to both keyword and intent, refresh your knowledge of the different types of keywords. Is your target keyword informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional?
Once you’ve aligned your content with the searcher’s intent, use a standardized checklist to include your keyword in all the appropriate fields:
- Meta description
- Image alt text
Checking these fields will help you fix one of the top technical SEO issues we see.
Practice makes perfect
Your digital content will never be perfectly optimized. And as soon as you get close, Google will announce a big algorithm update. Despite it all, marketers will keep striving for SEO perfection from technical optimization to keyword research.
By avoiding the common pitfalls we’ve discussed, you can continue fighting the good fight to bring more organic traffic to your website.
Prospective customers simply are not finding your product or service by using their smartphones to search. Worse, your competitors seem to have a crack SEO team at work. They've cornered the search engine market using keywords that strike at the heart of your business model. This is intolerable, of course, because you’re the best at what you do! Countless potential customers are being led horribly astray.
Deep breath. Awareness of a problem has taken hold. This is the necessary first step.
You’ve already taken the steps of committing to the process of improving your online performance through learning more about SEO, digital PR, geotagging, the primary types of keywords, website analytics, and more. However, as you began digging into the details, it became clear that no one person can possibly accomplish everything needed to improve — and retain — higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). You ultimately arrive at the realization that you need to hire more staff.
With that realization, you’ve taken the necessary second step — one that is frequently the most challenging. Very likely, the investment required to construct a search engine optimization (SEO) team from scratch seems daunting.
Don't Allow Panic to Make Your Situation Worse
However, you should never undertake building your team in a hurry. Instead, objectively assess your efforts to date. Realistically evaluate the skills you already have on board with existing team members. Commit to starting small and building consistently over time. SEO team success requires that you play the long game.
SMB owners might decide to combine some of the roles listed below. They might hold off hiring in one area to beef up in another. You'll want to set up something suited to your unique needs. There is no “one size fits all” approach that applies to every niche. Feel free to adapt these broad categories to arrive at a customized solution for your SEO team. Plan to review progress and identify deficits at least once per quarter.
Setting Your SEO Team Up for Success
1. SEO Team Lead
As with any company-wide initiative, the buck ultimately has to stop with someone. Given the constantly shifting terrain of the SEO realm, it’s all too easy for team members to get so far down into their respective rabbit holes that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Perhaps nowhere is the frequency of this common issue easier to get out of hand than during an SEO overhaul.
Whether you call this person the “Chief SEO Executive” or “SEO Top Banana” will be a function of the nature of your business and the overall vibe of your company culture. How you title this position is far less critical than it is that it signals authority. Everyone on your team signs off on the notion that whatever this individual says….goes. Every decision this person makes is final, for better or worse. Full stop.
Ideal characteristics for this role would include a high degree of flexibility, calm demeanor (i.e., not easily agitated), strong communication skills, and the ability to play the long game consistently. This person has a well-defined game plan that includes a unified approach, frequent praise for milestones achieved, and benchmarks that can adapt to changing market conditions.
Ideally, this person also has a strong background in PR and serves as a liaison between the SEO team and PR personnel. As the PR people are working to create positive brand awareness, those efforts are likely to uncover opportunities for back-linking, referral traffic, and building up the authority of your company’s website assets
2. Digital Content Lead
This person is responsible for planning, creating, and regularly updating the Content Creation and Publication calendar. One of the most frequent mistakes that SEO team leadership makes is seriously underestimating just how much legwork is involved in this singular task. After all, the end result is a calendar display that provides a consistent view for all team members. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like much of an end product.
In this case, appearances can be deceiving. The content lead is responsible for interacting with every member of the SEO team, coordinating the production and editing of 100% original content, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of every team member, and (not least) keeping a grip on approved vacation schedules. This person is also well versed in big-picture company objectives and the keywords required to obtain them.
Whoever occupies this position should (ideally) be a direct report to team leadership. These first two positions are frequently combined into one, but in most cases, that is not an ideal structure. If you must start out this way, look to split the two responsibilities at your earliest opportunity.
3. On-Page SEO Specialist
Among marketing specialists, the on-page SEO specialist can perhaps be considered your company’s online content introvert. Of course, they are always looking outward for research and trends to help optimize internal content creation efforts, too. However, the primary focus is creating, tweaking, and constantly fine-tuning company-curated websites, social media channels, videos, and all other publicly available digital media under the direct control of your SEO team.
There is certainly no shortage of sample job descriptions for this position available online. However, key attributes to keep in mind are the ability to work well with content creators to optimize copy, revise landing pages, caption photos, edit videos, conduct research, and bring their insights to bear on pre-existing, current, and future content creation. At times, this person might recommend that precious pieces of digital content be revised beyond recognition…or deleted altogether. As you might well guess, having some diplomacy skills will prove helpful.
4. Off-Page SEO Analyst/Technician
This function is quite similar to that of the on-page SEO team specialist, but the primary focus is consistently outward. This person relies on data-driven reporting — website analytics, sales figures, impartial niche rankings, and so forth. They use these as tools for connecting with external entities that might reasonably have an incentive for creating inbound links. The off-page specialist is particularly interested in boosting the overall credibility of the company. The key concepts for this person are overall content relevance, perceived trustworthiness, and domain authority.
If relationship building, outreach, and link building (see below), can be meaningfully compared to sales, this position can perhaps be analogous to customer service. There is likely to be a great deal of crossover between the on-page and off-page duties, but there are shades of difference in approach, which (again) is why it’s often best to split these responsibilities between staff. Your on-page people are responsible for “baking the world’s greatest cake.” Off-page expertise requires an ability to answer the question, “Why aren’t more people buying?”
5. Relationship Management, Outreach, and Link Building
On the surface, this position sounds a lot like sales, but it’s slightly more than just that. Yes, this position approaches external entities to gauge interest in collaboration, but it does not stop there. Given the fluid nature of online content — what works well one day might quite literally tank the next — this person’s responsibilities don’t end once someone cuts a check. Instead, this person maintains an abiding enthusiasm for the success of clients. They conduct regular research to share with clients to help them stay on top of SERPs and continuously enhance their reputation.
What Win-Win Relationship Building 'Looks Like'
There’s a terrific scene toward the end of the 1996 film Jerry McGuire. The title character authentically celebrates a significant victory for one of his sports clients. Across the field, another client who signed with a competing firm wonders why his agent never shows that level of enthusiasm. Separating quick sales from abiding interest marks the dividing line between sales and ongoing support. Staff in this position work for your company, yes. However, they are constantly on the prowl for opportunities that might benefit the external entities with whom they interact.
This position requires a deep understanding of the need to bring win-win propositions to the table week after week. The relationship management employee must maintain a keen awareness of what the on-page and off-page specialists do. They must understand how it can be leveraged to their client’s advantage. They must be able to speak to both highly knowledgeable SEO customers and those who need it boiled down to the most superficial level. This person must be able to explain how inbound links are most likely to come about, what can be done to boost online reputation, and more.
At the level of the SMB, relationship building might translate into better working relationships with suppliers, other businesses, customers, nonprofits, and local, state, and federal governments. In short, this person seeks to position your company such that other entities want to be associated with it, both online and in real life.
6. Technical SEO Team Support
Depending on the size of your business, you may start out with your web hosting and maintenance services being outsourced. Most SMBs do begin their online adventures precisely like that, and many choose to keep it that way. This might be perfectly acceptable in your situation and you, therefore, see no need to hire any professional “web nerds.”
Fair enough, but keep in mind that whenever you outsource anything, you enter into a queue. The level of priority you represent to that company will be in direct proportion to how sizable your account is as compared to others. Suppose that service provider has clients whose monthly recurring revenue (MRR) dwarfs that of your company. It’s not hard to guess who is going to get faster turnaround times on service requests. This sort of prioritization is to be expected, so patience may be needed.
Having a technical person or team just down the hall from your office can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the need to update the website core, scan for plugin conflicts and promulgate desired mark-up practices for both on-page and off-page SEO teams.
These people need to not only be highly conversant in what works best for SEO now, but they are also forward-looking. Suppose you’ve ever had a hosting provider send you an urgent email. They urgently inform you that you must update your site structure immediately. In that case, you know full well the value of getting advance notice. Forward-thinking does not throw your entire company into panic mode.
Play the Long Game with Your SEO Team Members
As mentioned at the beginning, there is no hard-and-fast rule for how to construct an SEO team that will meaningfully contribute to your company’s success. You can probably expect at least a certain amount of trial and error as you move forward. Copying what works for one company in your niche usually doesn’t work, either. Your unique selling proposition should be different from your competitors, so your strategy should differentiate, not blur, distinctions.
Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to conquering the digital realm and owning the industry you occupy through the use of custom SEO. What you probably do not want to do is hire a bunch of people only to turn around and let many or most of them go six months later. The impact of such a move will be devastating to the morale of the team members who remain.
If the staffing budget represents an initial stumbling block, better to combine a few of the roles listed above into one as a solid starting point. Just maintain ongoing awareness that it's easy to overwhelm you digital PR team. Many times burnout can creep up on even your most energetic team members without their realizing it. Be ready to add staff as need dictates, before your people begin to lose their energy and excitement.