An Introduction to SEO: Developing an SEO Strategy

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If you aren’t developing an SEO strategy that starts with your business and marketing goals, you’re wasting precious time and money. Stop the madness and learn how to do it right so you can achieve the best results possible.

Here’s the thing: Too many business owners have it wrong when it comes to SEO.

SEO isn’t about tricking search engines into ranking your website, especially not these days. Your objective is to help Google (and other search engines) fulfill their goal, which is to provide searchers with the perfect results. That way, they’re happy with the query they made on the site.

If you think you can outsmart Google, you’re wrong. You need to create a website that people want to visit, and that they want to tell other people about, link to, and share on social networks. 

That is the key to SEO, and you’ll never rank if you aren’t doing that. But developing an SEO strategy is what will create the signposts so Google realizes you have the good stuff they want to promote.

Understanding Where Your SEO Strategy Falls

You can’t expect to get anywhere with SEO if you approach it backward.

You need to be strategic about it, and you can’t look at SEO separately from the rest of your business. Your SEO goals should be tied to your general marketing goals and your overall business goals.

There are three steps, and SEO is last. Take a look…

1) Determine Your Overall Business Goals

You can’t market your business or even begin to think about SEO until you have a firm grasp on your overall business goals. That’s putting the cart way before the horse.

What is it that you are trying to accomplish in your business? 

Whatever it is, you need to define it clearly and get your team on board so you are all working for the same end result.

2) Create a Marketing Strategy

Once you have your general business goals, only then can you start looking at your marketing goals and deciding what your marketing strategy will be. 

And yes, this needs to come before you start developing an SEO strategy. This concept may seem like a no-brainer, but too many companies go about their marketing haphazardly without it stemming from the specific goals that they have for their business.

The goals you set to achieve with your strategy might include…

…or any number of targets that allow you to fulfill your business goals.

3) Implement SEO Tactics

If you skipped over steps 1 and 2, now is the time to go back. You simply can’t work on developing an SEO strategy that will prove effective until you’ve nailed down your business and marketing goals first. Seriously, don’t try.

Once you’ve done that, you can begin developing an SEO strategy that will actually accomplish your marketing goals, which will in turn accomplish your business goals. 

As a result, your SEO strategy will be different than ours and even from those of your competitors. For example, your SEO strategy might include any of the following (or not):

5 Parts of Developing an SEO Strategy

Once you’ve built a solid foundation by following the first three steps above, then you can dig in and work on all the aspects of developing an SEO strategy.

You’ll need to perform some research that will help you determine the best course of action. 

Create a document that defines your target audience, competitive research, keyword research, content strategy, and your goals and priorities. 

Let’s walk through each of these now…

Target Audience

SEO is impossible if you don’t understand your target audience because those are the people you are marketing to and trying to attract. 

Defining your target audience—and creating a customer avatar—means knowing their age, gender, geographic location, pain points (what they want and don’t want, what problems they have, what needs aren’t being met), and more.

You should be conducting primary and secondary market research through methods such as…

Once you know whom you are looking to attract, you can then research what websites are currently giving your target audience the results they are looking for in search. 

Then, you can determine what you have to offer that no one else does so that you can legitimately steal traffic away from them. That may sound harsh, but that is what developing an SEO strategy is all about, isn’t it?

Competitive Research

Next, you’ll need to perform research on your competitors so that you know where you stack up and what gaps you can fill. 

Do some Google searches and see who comes up. Look at their Google listings, content, reviews, and customer engagement. 

You can look at their on-page SEO and the sites that are linking to them by using comparison tools such as SEMrush.

To see their traffic, you can use tools like Alexa or Nielsen.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is not an SEO strategy in and of itself. More marketers need to realize that. Rewriting meta details, backlinking, and making architectural changes is only part of an effective strategy.

And here’s another part of this that almost everyone gets wrong: You should do your keyword research based on what people are searching for, not on what you are selling. 

You can’t get people to search for something they don’t know they are looking for, so make sure you know what your target audience knows. Are they aware of what you sell, or are they making “How to” searches to find the solution for a problem?

Once you have the main keywords that you want to rank for selected, you’ll need to find long-tail keywords (longer, more specific, and less competitive keywords) that relate to the main keywords. These strengthen your main keywords and provide content ideas for your content strategy as well.

Content Strategy 

Having an effective content strategy is an absolute must when it comes to developing an SEO strategy that actually works. If you aren’t producing content consistently, your chances of ranking are slim to none.

And that content needs to consist of high-quality, relevant, valuable, useful information—no fluff. 

It needs to be related to what you’re selling. Focus on answering all of the questions your target audience has about what you sell or the issue you solve. And use your long-tail keywords here!

Goals & Priorities

This is where you’ll decide which SEO tactics make the most sense for you to focus on based on the research you’ve done, the goals you’ve set, and the strategy you’ve developed. 

Will you focus on buyer keywords? Should you target lower competition keywords? Do you need to put more time into on-page SEO or off-page SEO tactics? Do you need to up your content marketing game?

You can only answer these questions after you’ve done your homework first.

What SEO Can & Cannot Do

SEO has its limits, and you need to understand them when you are developing an SEO strategy. 

Here’s what SEO can do when you have an effective strategy in place:

Here’s what SEO can’t do no matter how hard you try:

Remember, SEO is a long game that can take years of consistent work to see results. 

You need to earn links, engagement, and historical performance in the rankings. As you earn those things, you’ll grow your ranking—first for a few keywords, then for more competitive keywords, and then for harder keywords.

And it doesn’t end there. You’ll never “arrive” when it comes to SEO. You’ll always need to be further developing an SEO strategy that continues to work for you.

Takeaway

SEO is a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. If you do it right by developing an SEO strategy that is effective, you can build authority and create a more robust online presence. You’ll be bringing in organic traffic and qualified leads because you’ve earned it.

 


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Filed Under: Business Tips

About Jon Maday

Jon recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a degree in marketing and economics. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and loves his Chicago sports teams. Jon found his passion for marketing while in college and decided to pursue a career in the digital side of marketing. He is an eager learner and started with Viral Solutions as an intern before accepting a position upon graduation. Outside of work, Jon enjoys hanging out with friends and watching sporting events.