SEO strategies are no longer optional, especially for owners of online businesses. Your customers are trying to find your business, and they’re doing so with the search engine of their choice.
Search engines are the #1 driver of web traffic – despite the recent rise in social media, search engines are 300% more effective at driving traffic to your website, according to a study by hubspot.
And if your website isn’t on the first page of search results, there’s a good chance your customers will never even find it – 75% of all users never scroll past the first page of search results. And though pay-per-click ads are an effective way of circumventing this, they’re no guarantee of success – many users have learned to recognize this and ignore paid ad placements.
But the world of SEO can be very confusing for newcomers. Even if you understand the basics of how search engines work, SEO-optimized keywords, and how to optimize your website, you may be lost when it comes to your overall SEO strategy.
Your SEO strategy is the method by which you create content, gather links, promote your website, and use your SEO skills to raise the search profile of your website – so it’s absolutely critical that you understand the basics of creating a comprehensive SEO strategy.
That’s why we’ve created this article. We’re going to assume that you have a basic working knowledge of SEO, (if you don’t, this Moz guide is a great place to start) so in this guide, we’ll go over the details of how to build a great content strategy that will help boost your SEO profile using content, link building, social media, and more!
SEO strategies can’t exist without content marketing – these two marketing techniques are totally inseparable.
Think about it – after you’ve done in-depth keyword research, identified dozens of great long-tail keywords along with a decent search volume and low to medium competition, and begun building and SEO strategy, what do you do?
You start using these keywords to create smart, focused, and useful content for your readers! In this way, SEO strategy and content marketing are two pieces of the puzzle – both of which are essential for success.
Here’s a great way to think about it, if you’re still confused. SEO makes demands – after you do your keyword research, you know what keywords you need to target in order to rank highly in your preferred search engines.
Your content is what fulfills these demands. By understanding the keywords you want to rank for, you can create valuable, useful content for your readers, and employ your SEO keywords strategically throughout your content!
That’s why content is so valuable in SEO – and why SEO is so valuable when creating content. They’re intricately connected, and totally inseparable.
However, not all content is built alike. Content that’s plagiarized, irrelevant, poorly-written, or overstuffed with keywords can actually negatively affect your SEO rankings – search engines like Google can identify poor quality content, and they will penalize your website for it.
So, to truly take advantage of the power of content marketing, you must follow content creation best practices. Your content should be:
High quality, well-written – You don’t have to be Shakespeare when writing your own web content. However, your content should be as error-free as possible, and written in a way that is actually helpful to readers. If you really don’t like writing, consider hiring a freelancer to help you populate your website with meaningful and SEO-optimized content.
Never plagiarized – NEVER plagiarize content. Plagiarized content is like a slap on the face of your website and a sure-fire way to raise red flags for search engines like Google resulting in death sentence for your business. Plagiarism can be easily detected with tools like Copyscape, so you won’t get away with it.
Useful – Your content shouldn’t exist just to promote your SEO strategy, and incorporate SEO keywords. The content you create should be useful to your customers. That’s why “how-to” guides, buying guides, product reviews, and other helpful information packed articles are so popular in content marketing – they provide your user with valuable information, while still promoting your preferred keywords.
Targeted at specific, long tail keywords – When creating content, it’s important to choose only a few long-tail keywords for each piece. These keywords should be very specific, and easy to incorporate naturally into your content.
Not “overstuffed” with keywords – Keyword overstuffing occurs when you try to cram a particular keyword into as many sentences as possible. The misconception is that using a keyword umpteen times is always better – this is not the case. Google and other search engines can detect “keyword stuffing”, and they’ll penalize you for it.
To avoid this, don’t focus on using your keywords when writing. Write naturally, and incorporate them when you can, but don’t overstress about it. Your primary goal is to write great content that connects with humans, not just cram in keywords wherever you can, and then optimize that content with proper keywords to get some love from search engines too.
Using external and internal links – We’ll discuss more about external links in the next section of our guide. But essentially, there are some great advantages to be had by linking to external websites (links outside your domain) and internal links (links in your domain).
External links can help you build up authority and cite your sources – such as when you’re quoting statistics or a study. And if you can get other websites to link to your content, your content will be seen as more authoritative – and it will rise higher in search engine rankings.
Internal links are useful for spreading “ranking power” of highly-ranked webpages by connecting them to other, less authoritative pages. When you connect a highly-ranked page to a lower-ranked page, the lower-ranked page will rise in authority somewhat, which allows you to distribute page authority more evenly between your webpages.
Duplicate-free – Even if you wrote the content, you should avoid having duplicate content on your website. For example, your “About Us” section should not use the exact same content as your homepage. Google will detect duplicate content, and penalize you for it – because duplicate content is a sign of a low-quality website and inefficient site structure.
These content writing best practices are sure to help you as you begin to create content for your SEO strategy. So keep them in mind when creating your SEO strategy, and you’re sure to create awesome, value-added content that helps you rank more highly in search engines!
Link building refers to the practice of gaining external links that connect to pages on your website. These external links are extremely powerful for your SEO strategy.
Essentially, external links act as a “vote” for your website’s authority in search engines. The more your website is linked by other sites, the more likely it is to rank better in a search engine.
And if you think about it, this makes sense. If a lot of people are linking to your work on their websites, social media profiles, and other places on the web, it’s obviously valuable and informative – so Google and other search engines will take this into account when ranking your website.
Because of this, you should be trying to get your website linked to by high-quality, authoritative websites as much as possible, but most importantly, from the websites that are related to your niche. It’s one of the best ways to increase your SEO profile, and drive more traffic to your website.
However, just like content, not all links are built alike. Just having a lot of websites link to your website is not enough – the links must be from authoritative, high-quality sites. If you have a lot of “bad links” on your website, you’re likely to be penalized by Google, and your SEO rankings will drop before you know it.
So what’s a bad link? Bad links are links from websites that are low-quality, irrelevant to your content, or are repeated too many times from a single website. These links are often provided by spammy link building services. Examples include:
Link exchanges – Link exchanges occur when you agree to reciprocate links with another website. If they link to your page on their website, you’ll do the same for them. While this is natural to some extent, overusing link exchanges can seriously damage your SEO profile, according to Google.
Paid links – Paying to place links is almost always a bad idea. Paid links that do not use “nofollow” guidelines are against Google’s terms of service. While paid links are allowed, they must not affect page ranking. If Google identifies a page link that appears to be paid for and that’s not using “nofollow”, you will be penalized.
Comments on blogs – Comments on blogs that link to your website can help you boost your SEO profile. However, if you contract with a link building agency and they comment thousands of times on dozens of blogs with a link to your website, you’re likely to be penalized for spam – because that’s what you’re doing.
Avoid trying to link to your website on blogs – if you create great content, the legitimate commenters will do that for you!
Buried in “form footers” Some websites try to bury links in their “form footers”. The footer of websites is rarely looked at by visitors, so while these links are not usually penalized, they’re not useful for visitors – or for your SEO strategy.
Links from foreign-language websites – Links from foreign-language websites are usually regarded as “bad”, simply because they’re almost always not relevant. After all, why would a Chinese internet user want to browse an English-language website that they can’t understand?
Keyword-heavy links – Keyword-heavy “anchor” text for your links can be penalized by Google. When building links, avoid overusing keywords on the hyperlinked text – link to your content naturally, and avoid being penalized.
So, if all of these methods are bad ways to get links to your website, how can you make sure that you get high-quality links?
It’s simple. Don’t focus on link building. Focus on link earning. Here’s how.
Create lots of original content – The more content you create, the better. Focus on a particular niche of your business, and start creating incredible, original content.
Be interesting and engaging – Holding the attention of your readers is critical. Write in a way that pulls in readers, and focuses on user engagement and holding their interest. Don’t just be boring or factual – try to be entertaining.
Create content that’s useful to your customers – This is absolutely critical, so we’ll say it again. If your content is interesting and useful, it will spread naturally. So focus on useful content, and your readers are sure to share your posts.
Use multimedia content in your posts – People love images, videos, and multimedia content. Incorporate this kind of content into your posts, and you’re more likely to earn external links.
If you follow these best practices – and the best practices outlined in the Content Marketing section, you won’t have to use link building services at all!
Your valuable, useful content will spread on its own – and as your SEO profile rises, more readers will link to your content online, and websites will link to it as reference material, due to your authority in your chosen content niche!
So focus on creating great content and link earning – and you’ll be shocked at how quickly your content spreads.
Social media is absolutely critical to your overall SEO strategy – despite the fact that most links and content on social pages don’t directly affect your SEO rankings.
Why? Well, because most major social media pages are search engines! Think about it – people are just as likely to enter your brand name into their Facebook feed, Twitter page, or Instagram feed as they would in major search engines!
If you have a presence on all major social media platforms, you can have a serious edge over the competition. Not only will your company be easy to find on social media, your social pages will rank highly in search engines like Google – making it even easier to bring in traffic and attract customers.
Finally, social media allows you to connect with your customers constantly. Let’s face it – even your most loyal customers won’t be visiting your website every single day.
However, they will open up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social media app every single day, or may be several times a day – the average American spends 5 hours on mobile devices each day, and more than half of that is dedicated to social media.
Because of these reasons, it’s absolutely essential that social media is used for your SEO strategy. Let’s discuss the major platforms you should have a presence on.
Facebook – If you can only have one social media profile, it should be on Facebook. Facebook has 1.94 billion monthly active users, which is more than 25% of the global population.
Facebook is great for cross-promoting blog posts, creating longer-form original content, and receiving customer feedback. And with robust Facebook Business features, you can easily advertise your business to Facebook users, providing you with another way to boost your traffic, and convert more customers.
Twitter – Twitter is great for sharing short video content and quick updates about your business. It’s also great for customer support and questions – recently, Twitter introduced a suite of customer support features that make it much easier for businesses to respond to customer questions.
Instagram – Instagram is a great way to connect with your customers visually, with photos and built-in video. And with over 500 million active users worldwide, you can reach a potentially huge audience!
YouTube – Some may not think that YouTube counts as social media, but we do! YouTube has a huge, engaged, and active community, and is the perfect place to upload videos about your company!
YouTube is especially great for “How-To” video content. If you can create high-quality video content for your YouTube channel, you’re sure to drive engagement to your website, and to your other social media channels.
Pinterest – Pinterest offers businesses a way to connect with very specific audiences – especially given the fact that 71% of Pinterest users are women. Powerful tagging and photo sharing tools can help spread your visual content far and wide, and provide you with a valuable way to engage with your customers.
Snapchat – Snapchat is a great way to engage with younger customers. It’s estimated that around 60% of all smartphone users are on Snapchat, and that millennials represent around 70% of all Snapchat users. Not only that, users spend an average of 30 minutes on the app each day.
Using Snapchat, it’s easy to create bite-sized video content such as behind-the-scenes videos, promotional announcements, and much more! And with such an active, young user base, Snapchat is rising in popularity as a social media channel among major brands.
While there are many other social media websites out there, these are certainly the largest and most active services.
So don’t underestimate the power of social media – by creating great content and sharing it with your customers, you can boost your online traffic, convert more customers, and encourage a higher level of customer loyalty!
Press releases are a hotly debated topic in the world of SEO. This is because, in the past, links included in press releases were a very popular as a way to build links at a low cost.
However, Google and other major search engines noticed this quickly, because many companies started releasing “spammy” press releases that were inconsequential – and only existed to link to their web pages.
Today, links included in press releases don’t directly affect SEO. However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t use press releases in your overall brand building strategy.
While press releases may not be able to directly lead to a higher SEO ranking, they can still be a powerful source of online traffic. Press releases are useful for promoting new products and services, announcing changes in your website, and building the power of your brand.
To take full advantages of press releases to gain more website traffic, you should follow these best practices:
Don’t overdo it – Press releases are a useful tool, but if you issue a press release every time you acquire a new client, release an updated product, or change something small about your website, readers will get bored. Issue press releases when something truly newsworthy occurs – this will maximize their impact.
Use high quality distribution services – There are dozens of press release distributors out there, and some are very inexpensive. However, you get what you pay for – so we recommend spending a little more money to use a service like PRNewswire, PRWeb, Businesswire, or Marketwired. This will provide the largest possible audience for your press release, and increase its effectiveness.
Utilize targeted audience services – Most large distribution services will let you target specific audiences with your press release– journalists, large organizations, specific newsletters, and so on. Though it usually requires payment of an extra fee, this is worth the investment. You want to put your press release in front of interested customers – not just the largest possible audience.
Link to your press release on social media – Social media is a great place to promote your press release. Consider posting an excerpt on your social media pages, and then link to the entire press release. This keeps your followers informed, and can impress them if you show that you are important enough to be covered by a major PR news website.
Implemented correctly, press releases are still hugely valuable tools for building your brand – despite the fact that links in press releases no longer directly contribute to your SEO strategy. So follow these best practices, craft great press releases, and keep your customers informed – it’s well worth the cost.
We hope this guide has been helpful as you begin your journey to understanding SEO. The world of SEO strategy can certainly be confusing and complex – but with just a few basic SEO techniques, an understanding of SEO best practices, and a will to succeed, you’re sure to craft a fantastic SEO strategy!
So don’t wait another second. Follow the steps and advice laid out in this guide, and use your newfound SEO knowledge to create a powerful, comprehensive SEO strategy! If you do, you’ll rank more highly in major search engines, enjoy a more loyal consumer base, and be able to build a stronger, better brand.