SEO (Search engine optimization) is one of the most popular digital marketing channels, and hence, one of the most competitive. Therefore, things quickly get complicated when you start creating an SEO strategy.
SEO is no longer just about placing the right keywords in the right places of the website. Google has become much smarter since the old days of the internet. To outrank competitors and drive significant traffic to your website, you will have to up your SEO game and take a strategic and thorough approach.
In this article, we will go through the necessary steps to create a powerful SEO strategy.
Let’s get started.
1. Determine your target audience
Before creating an SEO strategy for your business, it is extremely important to understand your target audience. Specifically, you should understand what their pain points are, what are their priorities when they look for a product or service like yours, what do they commonly look for, and so on.
Having answered these questions, it will be much easier for you to know what keywords to target, what type of content to produce, and how to navigate visitors through your website.
2. Conduct keyword research
After you came up with your customer persona, it is time to conduct keyword research. The best way to do this is to find your competitors and see what keywords drive traffic to them. Here is how to do it:
1. Come up with a broad search query related to your business. If you are selling books, then type a keyword like “book shop [your city]” (for example: book shop in london) into Google. The top ranking websites are most likely your direct competitors.
2. There are several directions you can go from here. You can put the domain of your competitors into paid SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Ubersuggest to get keyword ideas. Then you can explore each keyword deeper to find related or lower competition keywords.
In case you want a free solution, type in some keywords in the Google search bar and see the auto-suggestions, or look at the “people also ask” section of the search results page. After you collected a list of suitable keywords, you can use Wordstream’s free keyword research tool to determine their search volume.
3. Analyze the competition
Besides getting keyword ideas, competitor analysis allows you to understand where your website has to be in terms of all metrics to outrank the competition. Select the websites that you want to outrank, and explore their blog posts, backlinks, content structure, etc. Knowing this information about your competition helps to come up with specific goals that your SEO strategy is built around.
4. Determine the work that must be done
After you researched your competitors, you should have a good idea of the SEO goals that need to be met for your website. The next step is to determine how much work will that consist of. The most important aspects of SEO that need to match or surpass the competition are content, backlinks, and user experience. Your website has to have better content profile and quality, load faster, and be more authoritative.
5. Calculate the costs
Now that you precisely know which aspects of your website you need to work on, it is time to estimate the costs of executing it. Such costs can include hiring people like content writers, outreach specialists, and technical SEO experts.
The costs will largely depend on whether you hire people or do SEO yourself. However, if the competition in your niche is high, you will most likely need a team. You can either hire in-house SEO specialists and freelancers or hire an SEO agency. Although trusted SEO agencies usually do their own research and create a strategy for you, you can provide your own strategy and only pay them for the execution.
6. Determine the timeframe to execute the SEO strategy
One big difference of SEO from other digital marketing channels is that it is a long game. There are two reasons to this. First, new websites can’t instantly rank on the first pages of Google, unlike other search engines like Bing. Even if you execute your SEO strategy very quickly, you most likely won’t see strong results the first few months. Second, the competing websites have likely been around for years, regularly publishing content and acquiring backlinks. It can take months or even years, depending on the competition, to catch up with the volume of content and authority.
However, you can choose to execute the SEO strategy either intensively or gradually. Being too fast with SEO is dangerous, but you can certainly speed up many aspects of it. To find out the best pace, for you, determine how much you are willing to spend every month. After that, determine how many months will the strategy execution take and divide the work accordingly.
Creating an SEO strategy usually starts with conducting a keyword research. The rest is reverse-engineering the competition. If you aren’t sure where your site has to get in terms of SEO aspects, just try to surpass the competitors. Once you determine the work that has to be done, decide how much of it will be done each month and who will be doing it.