What is an SEO Strategy?
A Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy is the process of creating a performance improvement and growth plan for your website. The focus of this plan is to increase your sites organic visibility within search engines (Google, Bing etc) by ensuring it is technically sound and its content meets the visitors intent.
Understanding Business Goals.
For your SEO strategy to be effective, it must be aligned to the overall company goals. Two key questions to ask the client are;
- What is the strategic company direction for the next 1 – 2 years?
- What are the business goals?
When these goals have been defined you can now start outlining your SEO strategy and analysing the tactics that can be used to achieve it.
Investigating What Tactics You Need.
In order to identify the issues or opportunities on your site, you need to undertake an in-depth diagnosis.
1. Competitor Benchmark
The first place to start when creating your SEO strategy is to identify who your online competitors are. This will give you an overview of how easy or hard it is going to be to break into that space and what amount of resources you need to put into your campaign. It also highlights the size of the market opportunity. Your benchmark report is also useful for taking a snapshot of where you are at the onset of your campaign you can use this to evaluate your campaign growth when you are doing performance reports later on.
2. Keyword Research
Keyword research helps you identify what terms or phrases to target. Every content project should start with keyword research. Keyword research helps you inform your on-page strategy by identifying what terms your site is seen as relevant for by search engines, what terms you need further optimisation for and what other content opportunities you should be targeting. The search volume data from your research also helps you create priorities for your content creation and optimisation.
Read our in-depth keyword research article to learn how to conduct one.
3. Content Audit
Next, evaluate the content on your site. Map URLs to performance data from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ryte or any other tracking tools you use. Also, plugin backlink and social engagement data. Now evaluate your content. How well is it performing? What do you need to improve? Are you cannibalising some of your content? What should you get rid off?
4. EAT Audit
After auditing the performance of your site’s content you also need to evaluate your sites expertise, authority and trust as perceived by search engines. The first place to start is by reading Googles quality raters guidelines. This document gives a great indication of Google’s intent when evaluating the content on your site. When auditing the EAT of a site we review both onsite and off-site reputation signals. Some of the issues we look at are:
- Onsite signals – review the quality of your sites content and the reputation of its authors. Do you have any authority signals on your site (Qualifications, awards, links to expert research )? How much Ad content do you have on your site?
- Offsite signals – review your backlinks, are they spammy or links from authoritative sites? We also review social signals, offline reputation – is it positive or negative? Review your brand entity – does your brand have a cohesive identity?
5. Technical Audit
The purpose of a technical audit is to evaluate the structure of your site. How well can search engines crawl and index the content of your site? How easy is it to understand the content structure. Some of the areas on our technical audit checklist are
- Crawling and indexing
- Site navigation
- URL structure
- Sitemap (URL inclusions and error)
- Robots.txt file review
- Canonical Tags
- Duplicate content
- Structured data
- Broken pages
- Implementation of redirects
- Missing and under optimised page title
- Missing and under optimised headers and meta description
- Mobile-friendliness (useability) – Do you need an APP or is PWA a better use of your time and budget for mobile optimisation
- Local SEO (if it is a local site or website with multiple local locations)
- International SEO (if it is a global site)
After you have reviewed these areas and identified any issues, create a summary document with all the issues in order of priority.
6. Speed Audit
Not only is speed a ranking factor, but your sites speed also affect your revenue. Research has shown that for every 1-second delay you lose 7% of your conversion rate. Optimising your site’s speed is one of the most important aspects of every SEO strategy. Use any speed diagnostic tools available to you (GA, Google Lighthouse tool, GTMetrics, Webpage test etc). None of these tools emulates real-life experience so as much as possible try to simulate the experience of the majority of your users. Look in your analytics tool if that’s available to you. Which device do most of your users visit your site on? What country to they visit from? What is the average broadband speed of the location they visit from? Plug all these information in when you perform your diagnostics.
Similar to the technical audit create a list of priorities. I usually start with the quick wins and then prioritise in order of speed gains. Decide what implementation strategies best suit your site. Are you primarily a content or news site? Will AMP help your content?
Now its time to create your strategic plan.
Example of an SEO strategy aligned with a company Goal.
Company Goal – Become the leading Global Brand for Women’s Sportswear
SEO Strategy – Project Dominance – Expand International visibility by closing the gap between (inset top competitor) Be the best in class for UX enabling customers to complete the onsite task quickly.
SEO Tactics to apply.
- Content gap analysis to identify missed opportunities from competitors and close them.
- Content localisation to ensure consumers find content that is not just translated but perfectly tailored to their needs.
- Speed optimisation to ensure the site is providing the best experiences for customers.
- Hreflang implementation to ensure the correct content is ranking in the right location.
- Visibility expansion – Create topic clusters to ensure that content is targeting consumers all through their life cycle from consideration to purchase and after-sales care.
Create a Timeline For Your Strategy
Now you have created your strategy and identified the tactics you need to achieve it. You can now begin to create a timeline for the implementation.
Split the issues into two categories: what you can implement yourself and what you need external help for. Then within these two categories list out all the quick-wins (usually on-page and image optimisation) and prioritise the remaining issues by urgency (likely to harm your sites) and revenue/conversion gains. I usually break up my plan into quarterly sprints so each quarter has a strategic focus. Finally, when creating a plan do not forget to schedule some time for reactive tasks, monitoring and performance evaluation.
Do you still need help creating your SEO strategy? Get in touch our team of SEO consultants and data analyst are happy to help.
This article was authored by former Erudite team Member MIRACLE INAMETI-ARCHIBONG