Is your website optimized to appear high up in search results? If not, you could be missing out on tons of business. SEO plays an integral role in your digital marketing strategy, allowing your business to leapfrog the competition and show up higher in search results – leading to increased business.
SEO should be a consideration for your business from the moment you start planning – well before your actual launch. If you build your website and your digital presence without SEO in mind, you’re setting your business up for failure.
It’s much easier to build up your website’s presence if you focus on SEO from the start than it is to scramble later to fix all the issues with your poorly performing site. By avoiding future website problems with a strong SEO focus from the start, you can save a ton of money.
Throughout this article, we will look at why an SEO strategy is so important for your business as well as dig into a few areas where you can focus to better position your website in search.
Let’s start by taking a look at what exactly having an SEO strategy means for your business.
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What is an SEO strategy?
An SEO strategy is a plan for your business that focuses on taking action to ensure your website shows up in relevant search results. Successful execution of an SEO strategy involves on-page SEO, technical SEO, external efforts such as link building, and now user experience as a result of one of Google’s latest algorithm updates.
Why should you invest in an SEO strategy?
Organic search results are typically considered to be much more trustworthy and receive more clicks than paid search results. Stats show that 45.25% of results from organic search result in clicks. Compare that with less than 5% resulting in clicks from ads.
On top of that, Google ads can cost quite a bit and eat into your marketing budget quickly. Organic traffic resulting from your SEO efforts is free. The average small business spends $9k to $10k per month on Google ads, and clicks can range from $1 to upwards of $50 depending on a number of factors.
On the other hand, if you execute your SEO strategy properly, you can save tons of money in the long-term and avoid having to redo your website down the road. As Google starts to serve up your site in search results, the traffic you generate from those search results will come at no cost. It will also tend to be more targeted and ready to buy, since much of the traffic will come from those people researching products and services just like the ones you offer.
So, you see the value in placing a focus on SEO now, right? Great!
Let’s move on to looking at a few components of an effective SEO strategy and how each can help put your business on the map.
Content marketing isn’t just a buzzword. The content you create on your website as well as outside your website can seriously impact the results of your SEO strategy. Google recently placed an emphasis on quality content to ensure it serves up the most relevant, most helpful results to the search engine’s users.
Search engines look to serve up the most reliable content on the web that answers questions accurately and provides the most value for users. Google analyzes a number of different signals to assess the authority and relevance of each of the billions of pages on the web and then serves up what they deem to be the top content for related searches.
As an example, you can see in the screenshot below that the Content Marketing Institute has cornered the market on searches for “what is content marketing?”. They’ve built so much authority that they even beat out a powerful website like Forbes.
One factor Google uses to determine the quality of your content is the number of pages and posts linking back to your site from other websites. This signals to Google that your content is worthy of noting in another piece of content. And the fact that it was cited as an example to support that particular piece of content must mean it’s an authoritative piece on the subject, right?
Google also looks at web stats like bounce rate, time on page, and other statistics that show that your site visitors either love your content (they stick around and consume more pages and stay for longer stretches of time) or they hate it (they bounce after 1 page and never come back).
So, focus first on understanding and serving your audience’s needs with amazing content. Your site will benefit significantly as Google begins to pick up on the various signals your site is sending.
Great user experience
While it’s still important to consider keywords when crafting content, your first concern should be creating an optimal user experience. With each Google algorithm update, the search engine giant fine-tunes its ability to pinpoint the best user experiences for different searches and then serves up the top results.
Essentially, creating an optimal user experience on your site means that you need to make your site faster, your content more easily readable, your navigation smoother, and generally help your visitors find answers quickly and leave your site with a smile. To create a solid user experience, you can do things like:
- Use smaller paragraphs to help the reader flow more easily through the content.
- Break up your content with clear header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.).
- Use varied post lengths that ensure the question is answered or the problem is solved with as much or as little depth as necessary.
- Use graphs, charts, images, and videos to visually enhance the content and more clearly explain the concepts.
- Optimize images and other content to avoid lag in page load times.
- Incorporate bullets and lists into your content to clearly highlight important points and make certain pieces of info stand out.
- Use easy-to-read fonts that are accessible and readable across any device.
- Limit page depth so visitors aren’t required to click 5 or more times to find the content they need.
By putting the above things in place, you can create a positive user experience for your site visitors. Google, as mentioned above, is getting better at understanding the user experience a site offers, and thus, your site will benefit if you focus on taking the steps listed out above.
When Google’s bots crawl your website, you want to be sure your pages and posts are set up to easily convey to Google what they are about and the value they add to search results. To ensure your pages are set up to impress the bots, you’ll want to focus on the following:
- Internal and external linking – Linking to other articles and pages on your website shows Google more in terms of what the article is about and what’s most important on your site. On the opposite side, linking to external articles and content on high quality sites also sends a positive signal to Google, as these types of links add context and value for visitors.
- Optimized images – Your images should have alt text to allow Google’s bots to crawl them and understand their relevance to more accurately rank your website. Your images should also be properly sized so they don’t slow down load times on your pages.
- Write attention-grabbing title tags – Title tags are different than the headline of the article. Your article may have a long headline, but the problem is that Google will only pull in part of it in the result, thus leading to confusion for the recipient of the search results. If you enter a shorter title tag into your SEO plugin, you can help Google serve up shorter tags that show up in results and lead to more clicks.
If you leave your headline as the title tag, your search results will be cut off, as you can see from the example below.
By updating the SEO title tag in your SEO plugin (I recommend Yoast for WordPress), your headline will stay the same on your website, but it will look something like this in search results.
By doing this, you can optimize your clickthrough rates (CTR) by 20% or more. So, before you set any content free into the digital world, make sure you stop by your SEO plugin (if you use WordPress) and make this small edit.
Sorry for the interruption, but that was important. Let’s look at a few more on-page SEO factors you need to consider.
- Short, descriptive URLs – When you create URLs for your posts and pages, try to limit them to just the necessary words.
- Keyword in URL – Try to add your keyword to the left on your URL so it shows up early and doesn’t get lost.
- Headers – Incorporate H1, H2, H3 and on down the line headers
- Quality copy – Break up content into sections with short paragraphs, quality copywriting, proofread and edited content, and make sure to write for user intent.
- Incorporate keywords – Work your target keywords into the content early and then naturally throughout the post or page.
- Avoid jargon – Make sure you clearly explain any concept you’re presenting in a way your audience can understand and easily grasp.
- Incorporate supporting images – Images (with alt text) can help the reader more clearly understand concepts and can provide Google with more info about the content.
Having a focus on on-page SEO can help both search engines and site visitors understand your content more easily. This can lead to a boost in website statistics, impress the search engines, and increase conversion rates.
Some people love this part and others hate it, but technical SEO needs to be a strong focus in your SEO strategy. Google loves a website that loads fast and performs well, and the following technical factors can help your website do just that.
- Mobile-responsiveness – Your site should perform equally as well on a laptop as it does on a tablet or mobile device. It varies by industry, but some stats show that 60% or more of the searches conducted are done on mobile devices these days.
- Site load time – If your websites takes too long to load, your visitors are bound to bounce and never come back. Even a few-second delay can cause your visitors to become frustrated. As such, you want to use a solid host provider, as well as optimize your images and other aspects of your website to ensure it loads quickly.
- Security – Your website should have an SSL certificate in place. This helps to prevent folks with malicious intent from accessing critical data as well as creating a fake version of your site. It also enhances trust with your visitors.
- Crawlability – It’s important that you take steps to ensure your pages are crawlable in search. To check on whether your pages are crawlable, you can use Google’s Search Console. If you uncover pages with issues, take steps immediately to fix them.
- Fix 404 pages – If your site has a ton of broken links and pages that won’t load, that’s not good. You can use your SEO tool of choice to uncover broken pages and other errors and then fix them or redirect them.
- XML sitemap – An XML sitemap is a list of all the pages that exist on your website. With a plugin like Yoast, you can pull a sitemap and then submit it to Google so the bots can understand your site. Your internal linking will help with this as well, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to submit your sitemap.
These are a few technical SEO considerations you should have in place. Ensuring that you’ve got all of the above accounted for can really help improve your website’s ability to show up in search. The ROI of your SEO strategy will get a boost as well.
This is one of the top factors Google uses to rank your website. According to a study conducted by Backlinko, the #1 result in Google searches has an average of 3.8k backlinks.
Google has always stressed the importance of properly building backlinks to your website. A strong link profile shows Google and other search engines that your website is credibile and the content on your site is respectable to the point that tons of people deemed it worthy of linking to from their own content.
Building backlinks isn’t easy, but it’s very much worth the effort. Here are a few tactics you can use to grab backlinks.
- Manual outreach – Find sites with broken links and ask site owners to replace them with your own links. Or, reach out to owners of relevant websites and explain why linking to your content could boost the value of their own content.
- Earn links – These are links you get based solely on the merit of your content. People love your content so much that they link to it without you having to ask. These are the best types of links, as search engines love them and they can lead to a more diverse backlink profile.
- Paid links – Be careful with these. If you work with an agency, make sure they are reputable and they understand the need for varied anchor text, quality relevant sites, and other factors that show the links are authoritative. You’ll also want to avoid sponsored tags, so make sure any paid linking you do comes with dofollow links from high-quality websites.
Here are some additional things to consider when building backlinks. These factors can help you build a more authoritative backlink profile, which can give a serious boost to your website in search.
- Site authority – Building links from sites with a high domain authority (DA) impresses Google. On the other hand, if you have links from a bunch of sites with single-digit DA, that’s going to have a negative impact. I recommend shooting for sites with at least a 30 DA, and try to grab those big-time 80+ DA sites when you can as well.
- Build your domain authority – Focusing on link building can help improve your site’s domain authority. Studies have shown that sites with higher authority tend to be the ones popping up most often in search results.
- Comprehensive content – A mix of long- and short-form content is great. However, I recommend creating a number of high-quality articles of 1500+ words, as the average piece of content ranking in the top spot on Google contains 1447 words according to the study by Backlinko mentioned earlier.
Link building should be a top priority for your business from the very start. Create high quality content that thoroughly answers questions or solves problems. Then share it often on social media, via email, and other places to grab attention and hopefully earn organic backlinks. Mix in some outreach and consider paid options as well, and you can build an impressive link profile that leads to a boost in search results.
SEO is such a fun space. I personally enjoy digging through a tool like SEMrush to gain insights into how we can improve a website’s position in search for our clients. And a nice manual SEO audit is great as well.
Make sure SEO is a focus for your business from the very beginning. If it isn’t, you may end up paying tens of thousands of dollars to clean up an SEO mess.
Focus on both on- and off-page factors to ensure you’re covering all the bases. And create an optimal user experience for your visitors to give a boost to your stats and get noticed by search engines.
An SEO strategy can help take your business to the next level and put you on the map in a very crowded digital space. So, get started today and begin showing up in search results to boost your traffic and grow your business.