The phrase “SEO isn’t what it used to be” has become a cliché among digital marketers. And here’s a true statement you don’t hear often: Your 2023 optimization strategy shouldn’t just focus on keywords.
Most businesses understand the basic concepts of search engine optimization (SEO) and why it matters. Creating great content for the keywords your clients are searching for, on the other hand, is difficult when it comes to designing and implementing an SEO plan for your company.
Modern SEO strategy is the act of categorizing a website’s material by topic, which aids search engines like Google in determining what consumers are looking for when they search. You can rank well for lengthier keywords linked to a topic by optimizing a website around that topic.
Before we get to the most important steps for creating an optimal SEO strategy, we should stress the following additional step, a step that complements all the others. When putting together a marketing strategy, email must still be a big part of it. As a low-cost, quick, and measurable way to engage with customers, email marketing offers enormous value. However, it’s one that’s actually more effective than many marketers know because effective email marketing via emails created through platforms that provide personalization, email campaigns, and templates (such as Benchmark) can help your SEO.
Here are 8 steps you can take to make sure your SEO is based on a good strategy.
Make a List of Topics
Keywords are the heart of SEO, but they are no longer your first step towards organic growth. Your first step is to make a list of topics you want to cover from one month to the next.
To get started, compile a list of about 10 short words and terms related to your product or service. Use Google’s keyword tool, Keyword Planner, to identify their search volume and create variations that make sense for your business.
Short keywords are usually more common in use, and therefore more competitive and much more difficult to optimize content that will fight for a good organic position in search engines. Long-tail keywords are what you need to pay attention to and around which you should optimize your blog text and push them in the forefront as keywords. We’ll go through how to use these words very soon.
By using search volume and competition as a measure, reduce your list to 10-15 keywords that are important to you. Then, in order of priority or relevance to your business, rank this list. Each of these keywords is called a “pillar” and serves as primary support for a larger “cluster” of long keywords, leading us to our next step…
Make a List of Long Key Phrases
Here you’ll begin to optimize your pages for specific keywords. For each pillar that you identify, use the Keyword Tool to identify 5 to 10 longer keywords that are related to the original keyword.
Use subtopics to come up with a blog post or website idea that explains a particular concept within each major topic you identified in Step 1. Include these subtopics in Keyword Planner to identify the longer keywords on which each blog post will be based. Together, these subtopics form a cluster. So, if you have 10-pillar topics, they should be ready to support one cluster of five to 10 subtopics. This SEO model is called a “topics cluster”, and modern search engine algorithms depend on them to connect users with the information they are looking for.
Think of it this way: The more specific your content, the more specific the needs of your audience – and the more likely you are to turn this traffic into leads. This is how Google finds value in the websites it searches; pages that are dug into the interconnection of a general topic are considered the best answer to a person’s query and will be ranked.
Build Pages for Each Topic
When it comes to websites and search engine rankings, trying to rank one page for several keywords can be almost impossible. But there’s a stumbling block that stands in the way…
Take the 10 pillar topics you chose in Step 1 and create a website for each that explains the high-level topic – using the longer keywords you got for each cluster in Step 2. Pillar pages on SEO, for example, can describe SEO in short sections that introduce keyword research, image optimization, SEO strategy, and other subtopics as identified. Think of each pillar page as content where you introduce your readers to the subtopics you’ll develop in your blog posts.
Use the keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you need to create. Lastly, the number of topics for which you create a page pillar should match the many different products, offers, and locations that your business owns. This will make it much easier for your users to find you in search engines, no matter what keywords they use.
Each website must include relevant content for your potential customers and include images and links to pages on your website to improve the user experience. We’ll discuss these connections in Step 4.
Set Up a Blog
Writing blogs can be an amazing way to rank for keywords and engage users of your website. After all, each blog post is a new website, giving you a new opportunity to rank in search engines. Set up a blog for your company if it doesn’t already have one. Here you’ll elaborate on each subtopic and start publishing on Google.
As you write each blog post and fill in your clusters, you need to do (or not) 3 things:
- Don’t repeat long keywords on the page more than 3-4 times. Exact keyword matches aren’t taken into consideration as much as they once were. In fact, having too many instances of your term can signal to search engines that you’re trying to ‘manipulate’ them. This could result in a penalty and a reduction in your website’s ranking.
- Link to the pillar page you made on this subject. This can be done using tags in your content management system (CMS) or in the article’s body text.
- Link each blog post to the pillar page that supports this background when you publish it. Find the spot on your pillar’s page that introduces the blog’s subtopic and connect it here.
By connecting both the pillar and the cluster in this way, you’re telling Google that there’s a link between long keywords and the overall topic you’re trying to rank for.
Write a Blog Regularly
Not every blog post or website you write should belong to a topics cluster. There’s also the value of writing about topics that your customers care about so that your website’s authority ‘catches’ Google’s eye. As you add material to your major subjects, Google will pay special attention to your domain.
In SEO, domain authority is a number that indicates how popular and trustworthy search engines consider your website. It’s calculated based on how websites link to each other on the World Wide Web. With that in mind, make a point on the blog at least once a week. Remember that you’re writing a blog for your readers, not for search engines. Write about the things your audience is interested in, make sure you include relevant keywords where appropriate, and your audience will slowly notice and start clicking.
Keep in mind that not all topics are equally important, and as your clusters shrink, you’ll need to determine priorities based on your company’s requirements. So, create a list of all the different websites you’d like to create and rank them. Next, make a schedule and make a plan to build these pages. Updating your list and prioritizing the websites that will best assist you in achieving your business objectives is a good idea.
Make a Link-Building Plan
The topic cluster model is your way forward in SEO this year, but it’s not the only way to rank your website content higher once it’s created. Our first five steps are dedicated to on-site SEO tactics. Link building is the primary goal of off-page SEO and is also a huge factor in how search engines rank your website.
What’s link-building? We’re glad you asked. Link building is the process of attracting links (also called “backlinks”) to your website from elsewhere on the web. As a general rule, the more authority a page has on the home page, the more influence it has on the rank of the website to which it links.
Take some time to find different ways you can attract inbound links to your website. Start small – maybe share your links with other local businesses in exchange for links on their sites. Write a few blogs and share them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Consider approaching other bloggers for guest blogging options through which you can link to your website.
Another great way to attract incoming links is to use your blog to publish articles related to current events or news. This way you have the opportunity to connect with influencers or other bloggers in your industry.
Follow SEO News and Trends
Search engine space, like total marketing space, is constantly changing. Staying on top of current trends and best practices is a difficult task, but there’s more than one online resource that can make it easier for you to stay on top of news and changes that can affect your website and your SEO strategy.
Some of the sites to look at in regard to this:
- SEOmoz (moz.com)
- SEObook (seobook.com)
- Search Engine Roundtable (seroundtable.com)
- Search Engine Land (searchengineland.com)
- Hubspot (blog.hubspot.com)
Measure and Track Your SEO Success
SEO can require a significant amount of time and work. Why spend all this time and effort if you don’t see the fruits of your labor? There are many metrics you can track daily, weekly, or monthly to keep your SEO plan on track and measure your success.
Because you’re interested in organic traffic (traffic that comes from a specific search engine), seek a solution that lets you track total traffic as well as how your pages rank for each keyword your site targets. SEMrush is a great reporting tool just for this purpose.
Create a monthly dashboard with Excel, Google Spreadsheets, or web analytics software to keep track of how much traffic comes from organic searches. Also, tracking indexed pages, potential contacts, return on investment, inbound links, keywords, and your actual ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages) can help you recognize your success as well as identify areas for improvement.
We hope that we’ve managed to bring you at least a little closer to the concept of SEO, as well as give some guidelines on what your strategy should look like this year.