Now that you know SEO is important, how do you construct an awesome strategy? Here are my 5 key elements for successful SEO.
One of the most important yet too often overlooked elements of a strong SEO strategy is teamwork. As I mentioned in my last post, SEO is not an add-on; the components of successful SEO span all departments, from branding to web development to marketing strategy to PR. The most efficient way to ensure this happens is to consider SEO in every step of your project and encourage open communication among team members and the SEO expert of your company. The most successful projects are developed with SEO best practices in mind and do not treat SEO as an after thought.
Make your content beautiful
If you have read anything related to digital marketing and SEO, you’ll be familiar with the mantra “content is king.” So, how do you create amazing content? You need it to provide value to the reader. Is it different and unique, or can I find it somewhere else? Have you done your keyword research and know the language your audience is using to search for this high-quality content? Here’s an example of why this is important: consider two web searches, “melanoma prevention” vs. “best way to avoid getting skin cancer.” These are similar, but the type of content the user expects to receive differs in its presentation, tone, jargon, and actionability of solutions. Know your audience, explore their language, and write for them. Keyword density is an expression I would like to ban from SEO. Last year, many SEO managers realized that their work had become less about keywords and more about semantics. Many articles go into great depth explaining the value of “proof terms,” “relevant terms” and other terminology as the new ways to craft your content. However, having read through too many of these articles, I realized that there is an easier, intuitive way to create “semantically optimized” content: write well! This seems to have become a forgotten art, with content creation being passed into the hands of more technical people, but if you can, recruit and nurture your writers, and the web will thank you. If you read your text aloud and you sound like a parroting salesman, you’re probably repeating yourself. Google may still be a search engine, but its algorithms have progressively become more centered around the human user experience. Write for humans, not robots.
Social media is increasingly important to SEO, for many reasons. Shares and audience interaction with your content is important, as these suggest that your material and company are interesting and therefore provide value to the audience. One analogy that I find explains the importance of social content strategy is to imagine social media as a big dinner party. No one wants to be sold to at a party, and no one wants to be stuck with the guest who can only talk about themselves. Engage your audience, ask their opinions, and behave as a partygoer trying to make friends rather than a salesman trying to make a pitch. It is more important to be where your target audience is and provide engaging and relevant content on those platforms than to be everywhere for the sake of being there. Focus on creating value on a few channels rather than a half-baked presence everywhere.
Search is becoming more local, meaning that the results you see will be heavily influenced by your location. Maps of results might appear, and pins of the top 5-8 locations matching your search in the area you are in are increasingly common on search engines. So how do you get your site there? Local SEO. This is a combination of on-site and off-site elements, for example claiming and completing profiles on the major directories for your business type (think Google My Business, Yelp, etc.). Profiles allow customers to leave public reviews, which are great for SEO, as search engines consider positive reviews as votes of confidence and also tend to display them directly in search results, which helps increase clickthrough rates. Apply your awesome social media strategy, and make the most of this opportunity to have your fans leave reviews once you have all of these fabulous profiles.
Rethink your link-building
While links are still the most important external signal for search rankings, the quality of the links, content, and domains is much more important than in the past; it is not only very damaging but increasingly easy for search engines to penalize sites still using paid or low-quality links. Now, successful link-building resembles PR: find the experts and respected voices in your subject area, contact them, and work out a visibility exchange. Guest blogging is a good example as are online press releases. Keep it real, and apply the same high standards you would to any content you produce.
There you go - the 5 key elements of an awesome, holistic SEO strategy. Some dimensions will be more important to your business or website than others, but these 5 key elements are essential to helping the user enjoy, trust and recommend you, directly or indirectly: the ultimate goal of SEO.