Marketers are well aware that SEO goes beyond just keywords weaved into web pages. File sizes, web speeds, link building, content length and quality, are all critical pieces making up a strong SEO strategy. Without all working in unison, your search efforts are not totally optimised.
Although everyone’s in on the secret that SEO is multi-dimensional, many small to medium-sized businesses simply don’t have the internal resources to be fully “on it”.
Maintaining an SEO strategy is not all that hard itself, but developing that strategy can look like an insurmountable task. It’s hard to visualise how to bring all these parts together, creating a cohesive SEO plan and developing practices to keep on the right path.
As an SEO agency, this is kind of our forte, and we work with clients every day to help them see the forest for the trees. We’ve become pretty good at laying out an easy to understand actionable approach. What follows is all you need to know and do to develop your SEO strategy for 2022.
Developing a smart SEO strategy for 2022
Being smart about your SEO plan really comes down to being thorough. Follow these steps to build a comprehensive strategy, setting your business up to thrive in 2022 and beyond.
Define your goals
Of course, “get more site visitors” is up there, but what about when you get them? How many do you want? What does that even do for your business? How does it tie into sales? With clear goals, you can track your performance, understand ROI and measure how your strategy impacts business revenue.
It’s good to start big and then piece together how you can achieve that. For example, say you want to get more website traffic. This is the primary goal. Now you need to fill it in.
- How much traffic do you actually want?
- What happens to those site visitors once you have the traffic?
- How do you put a value on those visitors based on which page they come to? E.g. is the homepage the same value as a product page, service page or contact page?
- How will you measure conversions?
- How much time do you set to achieve these goals?
- What audience are you going to target?
Think of this as the profile building step. Not only are you drilling in to figure out who your target persona is, but you’re also building a profile about your business goals and how you are going to be able to achieve them.
Observe your competitors
Understanding the finer details of your goals makes it much easier to spot competitors who are doing well in the areas you want to do well. Once you identify those companies, competitor analysis helps you understand their strategy, which will inform your own.
You want to look for their:
- Organic search rankings
- Online reviews
- Blog strategy
- Backlink profiles
- User experience
- Social media
- Target audience segments
- USPs and other differentiators.
From a technical SEO perspective, you want to review their:
- Site health
- Page load speed
- Technical SEO implementation
The goal is sometimes to mirror what they do well, but there is also a huge opportunity to really drill into your own differentiators so that you can craft content that stands out against them.
Pro tip: Don’t only review your primary competitors in the market. Also, review your competitors online. Anyone on Google’s first page results is competing for your spot in front of a user’s face.
Explore topics and keywords
Once you have diligently detailed your goals and competitor analysis, you can begin your topic and keyword research. With the information above, you will have a foundation to understand what keywords actually help you compete, not just what keywords relate to your business. Online tools such as Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool can assist you with your keyword research. Both tools confidently provide you with information on monthly search volume, average industry cost-per-clicks, competition level per keyword.
As part of your competitor analysis, you should be collecting lists of web pages, blog posts and articles that rank highly, which your business can compete with. Taking a topic-first approach helps you to target keywords that match topics, rather than always repeating keywords that match the industry.
You do this by building topic clusters into your strategy. Rather than single keywords, topic clusters broaden your research and open up way more opportunities to reach a broader audience through more search phrases.
Say you’re an e-commerce business in the fashion space. You have a pillar topic, which is clothing. But you also have numerous subtopics: pants, shoes, tops, etc. Then you have individual products as subs under those. Developing topic clusters means you aren’t just trying to rank for fashionable clothing. You’re also working on individual categories that spread your SEO strategy across your site and to a wider audience.
For services businesses, you may have pillar pages on your website. E.g. SEO. Then there would be many subtopics. E.g. local SEO, mobile SEO, SEO strategy, SEO mistakes, etc., etc. These will all need different keywords and key phrases.
Add internal linking to your topic clusters, and you can build a strategy that keeps users on your site, exploring the rich depth of content connected to their initial search.
Think about user search intent
Before you go about developing your content based on your keyword and key phrase lists, make sure you first think about search intent. Do your key phrases match what users are likely to search when they enter a question into Google? What content does this audience like to find?
The simplest way to review this is to write your keyword into Google and analyse the first page results. Check if the pages or blogs are research, solution or brand focussed. Note this, and be sure to develop content that follows a similar approach to make sure your visitors are finding what it is they are searching for.
Devise a link-building plan
Link-building helps your site gain authority. The goal is to have other sites link to your site, which makes Google’s algorithms go “people seem to really trust this site, so we do too”.
Link building strategies can vary from developing really solid, valuable content that naturally attracts others to use it, or really hands-on link building efforts, approaching site owners to ask them if they would be open to linking to one of your blogs or web pages. Business leaders could also offer guest blogs that afford backlinking opportunities.
Invest in your H1’s
You may have the best content on the internet, but your title could be the single line that determines whether your ideal audience sees that content or not. Again, analyse what others are using and create your own unique titles that are optimised to inspire click-throughs.
Consider your conversion funnel
An SEO strategy is not just for attracting new site visitors. It should also focus on building a reputation so that your target audience finds you at each stage of the sales cycle. If you’re a services business, write content that talks to them from the entry-level right up to the final steps. Even e-commerce businesses can do this by introducing content beyond product pages that keep shoppers engaged, sharing the latest trends and other content their customers will value.
Don’t forget about technical SEO
This is where many businesses get stuck. Developing SEO rich content is the more easy-to-maintain task, but managing technical SEO is just as important to Google’s algorithms. You need to make sure the site’s backend is technically strong, or you’ll be on your way down the results page.
Technical issues translate into user experience issues, and poor user experience makes users bounce, and Google falls out of favour with your site.
Look at tools like Deep Crawl, OnCrawl and Screaming Frog to uncover issues so that nothing goes unactioned. Look for:
- Crawl budget efficiency on your log files
- Load times
- Problematic URL structures
- Pages without HTTPS
- 404 error pages
- XML Sitemaps issues
- Outdated or missing URLs.
User experience is number one
When combining all of the elements above into your SEO strategy, remember that the execution of that strategy needs to always be user-friendly. The final hurdle many businesses face is following the SEO rules so closely that they forget to develop human-friendly, engaging content. Or their content has no flow to make navigation of the site easy for visitors.
User experience means that your pages connect to other relevant pages. Your services and products are easy to find. Users always land on a page that delivers against the inquiry they originally put into the search engine.
Tactics to let go in 2022
Now we’ve covered what to do, it’s important to point out a few things to avoid in your SEO strategy. 2022 is not the year to keep up bad habits. These are the ones, in particular, it’s time to let go of:
- Keyword stuffing
- Subpar UX
- Duplicate content
- Intrusive ads.
For more on developing a killer SEO marketing strategy, examples of what not to do, and other valuable insights on all things SEO, visit our blog.
AdVisible works day in, day out with clients big and small looking to generate leads and optimise their organic efforts online. Whether you need a hand developing your entire strategy or want a partner to fill in internal weak spots, our team is ready to tackle your problems and drive you to SEO success. Contact us today.