What is the best SEO strategy out there? Most of the strategies that you’ll find online will help you get started, but there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” organic SEO strategy. Every website is different–different audience, different goals, and different stages of their SEO campaign.
At Emineer, we understand that. It’s the reason why we offer different SEO packages for business-owners at all stages of the game.
Link building is a huge part of search engine optimization, and before you go out and build links like a madman, it helps to develop a well laid-out SEO strategy first. In this post, we’re going to help you do exactly that.
Step 1: Assessing your current situation
The first step in any SEO strategy is to evaluate where you stand. Before you make any changes to your site, it’s important to know all the steps you need to take beforehand. You don’t want to build 1000 links to a page, only to change its URL afterward because you realized it was targeting the wrong keyword. Before you do absolutely anything, create a plan of action.
And it all starts here…
By knowing your ultimate goal, you’ll always have a compass to guide your next move.
Mentally, it’s healthy to have expectations for your website. The crucial question to ask yourself is, “Where do I want out of my website? What’s the best possible outcome from my SEO efforts?”
When you’re just starting out, there’s no reason to sell yourself short so aim as high as you realistically can. And even if your site has been around for years, there’s no reason why you can’t take it to the next level. By knowing your ultimate goal, you’ll always have a compass to guide your next move.
Developing your SEO strategy can be inspiring. But here’s word of caution: don’t try to rank for your prized keyword right out of the gate.
If you’ve decided that you want to eventually rank your site for “engagement rings,” try to rank for “New York engagement rings” first (or wherever you happen to be located). Google will never place your site in the Top 10 for “engagement rings” if your site is only 3 weeks old. However, ranking for something more reasonable first will help your site build up trust with Google so that when you do decide to target your #1 keyword, you won’t have as much trouble.
One of the most valuable things any webmaster can have is a list of keywords they’re looking to rank for. Each page of your website should be trying to rank for one of your target keywords. By building a keyword list, you’ll always know which pages you need to focus on and which pages you still need to create.
Let’s say you own a jewelry shop and you want to rank for “engagement rings.” However, there are plenty of other keywords that you would want to rank for, as well. Like these:
Jot these down (along with their number of monthly searches) and keep them in an Excel file. Immediately, you have plenty of ideas for new pages to create:
- Title: Antique Engagement Rings, URL: “/antique-engagement-rings.html”
- Title: Vintage Engagement Rings, URL: “/vintage-engagement-rings.html”
- Title: Diamond Engagement Rings, URL: “/diamond-engagement-rings.html”
You may not eventually rank #1 for all of these terms, but you can most definitely try. This is what keyword research is all about.
What SEO strategies have you tried already? Have they worked? When did you notice your most drastic ranking improvements? When did your site fall off the map?
Although rank tracking can become an obsession, it’s important to know when your site’s ranking changed because this can inform you which SEO strategy is working well. Google does not necessarily treat every keyword alike, so the strategies that helped your site rank may not necessarily help another site rank. This is why there is no replacement for keeping your own notes.
This is why a tool like Market Samurai is so valuable. We’ve found it to be the easiest rank-tracking software available out there and it allows you to keep a daily log of your rankings.
If you keep a separate log of your daily SEO work, you can match up your rankings with your work and make educated assumptions as to which of your optimizations had the greatest impact on your rankings. If you notice that your ranking was stagnant while you left your site alone, and then all of a sudden your site’s ranking improves after you publish unique, high quality content, it’s Google’s way of telling you, “Keep giving us more of that.”
Step 2: Shoring up your on-page SEO
After you’ve created a final keyword list and you’re confident in where you’re headed, it’s time to get to work. Although you can’t always control who links to you (more on that later), you can control what happens on your site. This is why getting your on page SEO right is the perfect first move to any SEO strategy.
Titles and URLs
Title tags and URL structure is like the dynamic duo of on page SEO. They go hand in hand and are absolutely crucial to a well-optimized site.
Remember that list of keywords and pages you were going to create? Bust that out and write Title tags and URLs for all of them. Title tags and URLs are completely customizable so there’s no leave to take anything to chance. Scroll up for a few Title/URL ideas that came straight from the keyword list I created.
Here‘s a great guide to creating your next title tag from the folks over at SEOmoz.
Here’s a good test: visit every page on your site and find out if there is at least one other page on your site that links to it. If not, Google may never have a chance of finding it.
Remember that Google uses links as little bridges between one page and another, and if you don’t give Google a bridge (link) to walk over (crawl), they have no way of getting across.
A good practice to get in the habit of is linking to at least two other inner pages in every blog post you publish. Remember that off-page SEO is unpredictable, so whenever you have an opportunity to assign anchor text to another page of yours, you should take advantage of it. It’s just basic SEO.
Get your social on
Social media is becoming inescapable, and to some, even irresistible. With the recent advent of Google+, social media looks to expand even further than even we thought possible.
You don’t have to be a social media expert to easily take advantage of the vast reach of social networks. All it takes is a few simple buttons on your site to let your users tell the world how much they love your content. When one person “Likes” your blog post, all of that person’s friends are updated and shown a link to your blog post. And all this happens instantly. As important as Google rankings are (and they are important), social media gives your site exposure in a completely different and unique kind of way.
Also, the greatest form of proof on Earth is “I like this.” There’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth, and it’s just a click away. The Emineer blog uses a WordPress plugin called Sharebar and it’s wonderful. Plenty of our posts have gotten Liked and Tweeted by people all over the world. And all it took was a few clicks to install the plugin.
Step 3: Links, Links, and More Links
The heart and soul of SEO. More than anything you can put on your site, Google will trust your links even more. This is not to say that you should neglect on-page SEO, but your SEO ranking is more closely related to who links to you.
Here are three simple ways to get high quality backlinks:
Leveraging your expertise: Are you an expert in your field? It can be tempting to hoard all your expertise and save all your material for your website, but it can be helpful to re-write one of your best articles and publish it for free elsewhere. Create a Squidoo lens and write an expert article on your topic of choice. Sign up for a free WordPress blog and write a few posts on why your industry is important. Write an article for Ezinearticles that shows the world how much you know about your field.
Why use Web 2.0 to promote your business? Well, two main reasons. The domains that these pages would exist on are extremely powerful and already have a foundation of trust built up with Google. They have massive reach and you’ll get plenty of direct traffic from your articles.
Second, and more to the point, you can drop a link back to your website on most web 2.0 sites. In fact this is one of the main reasons these services are so popular. Yes, it’s self-promotion, but if you’re just starting your SEO campaign, that’s OK. No one is going to link to you unless you show your face to the world first!
Build relationships: Unless you work in a completely new industry and you’re a pioneering entrepreneur, there will probably already be other people online who offer products and services related to your website. Take a few hours out of your day and contact as many of them as you can. (Please don’t spam their inboxes, though!)
You’ll find that many of them won’t get a chance to answer back, but some inevitably will. Offer to write a guest post on their blog, or at the very least, ask them to check out your site. If they like what you have to offer, the least they can so is place your link on their directory page or recommend your site to their readers. Genuine relationships are hard to come by in online business, so again, put your face out there and good things will happen.
Write Exceptionally: Every post you read on the Emineer SEO blog took at least 5 hours to write, sometimes much more (this one took several days!). But we do that for a reason: posts will never go away. For years, visitors will be able to read our posts and learn all kinds of SEO strategies that they may otherwise not have known. We only had to write them once, but they’ll be read hundreds and thousands of times over.
And of course, our posts are top-notch because writing exceptional content is a great way to get backlinks. People from all over the web have linked to our posts because they consider them resources to anyone looking to get started in SEO. That’s the kind of material you should strive to write.
Here are my three favorite blogs that exemplify exactly what I’m talking about:
By now, you should have a clearer picture of your overall SEO strategy. Don’t rush the process and focus on quality above all. Others might blaze past you with black hat SEO tactics, but in SEO, sometimes the faster the rise, the harder the fall.
Here is our basic SEO strategy, summarized:
Plan a course of action, optimize your on page SEO, and then focus on quality link-building. And if you should ever get stuck on any of those steps, we’re here to help.