When talking about SEO, your first step should be to draw a line between your website’s SEO and your SEO strategy. The two are different and deserve (and demand!) individual attention.
Your website’s SEO is a set of structure-level settings, features and configurations that must meet the minimum requirements set by search engines, in order to qualify for the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) race. Once your website has qualified for an organic ranking, your SEO strategy is the engine that is meant to help your website beat competition and rank better in the SERP list. So, before you implement your SEO strategy, begin by asking yourself if your website is SEO optimized. You can read more about this in our earlier entry: How To Optimize Your Website Like A Pro.
If you want to race in Formula 1 (by which we mean Organic search), you have to make sure your car meets the minimum requirements set out by the race authorities and moderators (giants like Google, Bing, etc.). Once your car is ready for the race track, engineering the car to perform better than the competition is a never-ending race.
The modern SEO industry is dynamic and has developed far beyond when keywords were the foundation of good SEO. All of that is history now. Modern Digital marketing practice mandates the development of the SEO strategy in way such that it complements the content strategy. To clarify, any SEO strategy you create should contain (at minimum), these three elements:
- Architecture – Your website’s compatibility with Google
- Content – The user-experience, value and stickiness of your content
- Links – Your website’s online reputation
As you can see, even though the name of the game is SEARCH ENGINE Optimization, only one-third of it deals directly with your website’s direct relationship with search engines. Also, your website’s SEO only covers the Architecture. Everything else after that (the content and the links) are a part of your SEO strategy.
Why Are There So Many Guides And Articles On SEO? Which One Should I Follow?
Search engines like Google keep trying to be more useful, which means that they keep adjusting their internal systems to display a better list of results every time somebody performs a search. To do so, search engines have to make sure that they are always ready to show the most relevant information. They do this by constantly cataloguing (aka indexing) all the websites on the internet and evaluating them for their relevance, user-experience and quality. That is the bottom line.
Can I Do My Website’s SEO Myself?
A quick (and popular) way of identifying weaknesses in your website’s SEO is to use SEO auditing tools. But while these can help you get started, they are not built to point you in the right direction or highlight the SEO requirements that are unique to the type of your website, the nature of your business, the target market, etc.
If you haven’t been doing that already, you can jump start this side of your SEO strategy by checking out what your competitors are doing through tools like Wordtracker, and using tools like the ever reliable Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
Where Do Keywords Come In?
Modern search engine algorithms are smart enough to know what a user had for breakfast, which means keywords are a thing of the past now. Writing keyword riddled content these days is like learning to swim by taking repeated baths. You’re gonna get wet but you’ll drown the moment things get serious. That being said, keywords still play a major role in the way organic and paid Search campaigns work. Use them to guide your SEO and content strategies and marketing campaigns. Put them in your content wherever the shoe fits, but don’t do anything forced.
I’m Already On The First Page When Somebody Searches For My Business. Do I Need SEO?
The objective behind having an SEO strategy is to grow the organic search traffic to your website which in turn increases your organic conversions on the website. But to get to that point, you first need to start by showing up on the first page of Google for as many business relevant keywords as possible – not just for the brand name. So, for a cooking school called ‘Oven Lovin’, the objective would be to show up organically for keywords like cooking classes, cooking diploma courses, international cooking school, etc. Each of these represent a perspective, angle or interest that exists amongst the target market. Naturally, this would require the website to be populated (and periodically updated) with content that deals with these areas.
Here’s the cold merciless truth: If you own a website and do not have a section of your website that you frequently update, then your best bet is to either start doing so, or dedicate your time and resources to the only remaining silver bullet: paid search marketing.
Best Practice: SEO Aligned Content
SEO has come a long way and any SERP real estate you now acquire is that which Google’s algorithm believes you deserve. Every time somebody performs a search, the search engine holds a small competition and judges which results qualify for the top positions. This means that your digital visibility depends on the amount of time and energy you put into ensuring your online relevance.
Of course, it is entirely possible to become an authority on a subject. In fact, this practice is recommended and pursued worldwide. For example, a modern day Dry Cleaning service would go a step beyond marketing their prices, deals and services. They would go the distance and set up a blog on which they’d post entries designed specifically for their target audience. This can include anything from laundry hacks, information about cloth types, laundry detergents, etc.
And you don’t always have to write on your own website. Make industry-level online relationships by contributing to other websites that may be interested in what you have to say. The resultant back-links you will get to your website as a contributing author will allot additional creditability to your website.
In A Nutshell
To recap, keep in mind (at all times!) that search engines dedicate a massive volume of resources to evaluating websites factoring in the users’ experience before deciding whether or not a webpage deserves an organic spot on the SERP in response to a search query. Staying recent and relevant to your industry is your best shot at staying on top.