Every business knows that being able to create an SEO strategy that really works is critical. And while most people understand the essential concepts of search engine optimization and why it matters, knowing how to create, develop, and execute a robust and stable SEO strategy is still somewhat elusive. And the reality is, spending too many hours creating content for the specific keywords your ideal customers are searching for is tiring, frustrating, and in the end, about as effective as trying to buy Yelp reviews to grow your brand: it doesn’t work.
So how do you create an SEO strategy that really works?
MAKE A LIST OF TOPICS
Keywords are the heart of good SEO. Okay, I know what I just said above, but stay with me. Keywords matter, they just aren’t the first or most important step in generating organic growth. So that’s why you’ll start by making a list of topics — not keywords — you want to get into over the next year.
Next, head over to Google’s Keyword Planner and come up with 8–10 short keywords or terms that are relevant to your business. Try to narrow your topics list by competition and search volume. You’re not going to blog to these words; the competition is far too steep to generate any real results without significant effort here. Instead, you’re going to use each of these keywords to support a larger batch of long-tail keywords.
This is where you’ll begin the actual optimization. Begin by listing 5–7 long-tail keywords for each of the terms in your group of topics above. You want to get into the specific needs of your ideal audience because when you do, you’ll have a higher conversion percentage. And remember, Google loves website pages that dig deeper into the specifics of a topic because it’s viewed as a specific answer to a general search query.
BUILD TOPIC-CENTERED PAGES
This is where things get serious.
For each of the topics in your first list, create a separate webpage, and use each of the long-tail keywords from your second list. Use your first topic list to determine how many unique and separate pages you will have to create. Ideally, you should create pages that correspond to the number of services, products, offers, and locations you have. This makes it easier for potential customers to find your business regardless of which keywords they type into the search engine.
CREATE A BLOG
Blogging is STILL king.
Blogging really is a beautiful way to rank for keywords while engaging visitors to your website.
If you’re not already a fan of the idea, think of it this way. Each new blog post is a new webpage that provides a unique opportunity to improve your ranking within a search engine. People can only give you patronage if they can find you.
For each blog post:
- Include your long-tail keyword no more than four times. Popping your new favorite phrase in too frequently will have Google thinking your site has been ‘stuffed.’ Keyword stuffing — overusing a keyword(s) — can actually lower your rank and penalize your website in the search engine.
- Link to your main topic page either by using anchor text within the body of your article, or tags in your content management system.
- After you’ve published your post, link to it from your main topic page. Look for the point on your main topic page that references this particular subtopic and link to that.
When you connect your original post and sub-post in this type of circular link, you’re helping Google understand that there’s a relationship between your long-tail keyword and the main topic you are building rank for.
Consistency is critical when your building rank. But don’t think you have to link every blog page to the main topic. In fact, posting pages that are within the general content theme but not directly connected to your main topic can help establish your authority within Google’s eyes.
When writing, always remember that you’re writing for your ideal audience — you’re not writing for the search engine bots. Focus on issues that are relevant to your readers, and add relevant, searchable keywords to those posts. Consider setting up Google alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest news for your industry and blog on these topics. By doing so, your readers will gradually begin to click their way through your website.
While search engine optimization isn’t quite what it used to be, it’s still a powerful tool for growing your business. Once you’ve mastered the ways to create an SEO strategy that really works, you’ll see the organic growth you’ve always desired.