When it comes to SEO, defining the strategy is a hard concept to truly understand. It’s big, seemingly vague, and it can feel like the target is always moving. So it’s easy to understand why choosing the “right” strategy, or any strategy at that, for a website can get overlooked. That urge to get everything optimized as quickly as possible is a powerful feeling. It’s this thinking that makes choosing the right blueprint for your website feel like a daunting and fruitless task. The thing I come across most often when it comes creating an SEO strategy is that tactics and goals are mistaken for it. But in truth, these are elements of the bigger picture. When you’re first starting out, it’s tough to know what to incorporate into your game plan. From figuring out which keywords you should target to whether you should focus your time on content creation or backlink acquisition, it’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in every direction.
Nailing down the pieces of your strategic outline will help you to better focus your resources and determine what works for your website.
Building Your Strategy
So how do you go about narrowing your focus so that you can clearly define your plan of attack? To build a capable SEO strategy you need to work backwards. Start with your end game in mind.
1) Clearly define your goals for the site
Whether you want more traffic or downloads or sales, it needs to be obvious. And I don’t mean obvious to you, but to your visitors as well. If it’s not obvious to them, then you’re going to have a tough time generating any business.
2) Determine The Buyer Flow
Once you have clearly defined goals, the next step is identifying the purchase funnel. List out the different touch points a customer will experience on your website on their way to reaching your goal.
3) Identify Your Value Proposition
What separates you from the rest of the industry and how you deliver that differentiator. Is it clear to your audience what your differentiator is? Highlighting your value proposition throughout your website is key.
4) Choose Your Target Audience
Don’t say Everyone! Not everyone will want to buy from you, so be specific. The more specific you are with framing your perfect customer, the easier it will be to market to them.
5) Understand Your Audience
Once you’ve narrowed down to your ideal customer, you need to get to know how they research and shop online. Learn their language (which we’ll explore in more detail below). Identify characteristics of how your ideal customers interact on the web — is it using blogs or forums? is it videos or podcasts?
6) Research Your Keywords
You may think you know what keywords you want to target, but there are way more out there than you can imagine. Take the cannabis industry for example. Think of all the slang terms that exist for cannabis; weed, pot, Kush, marijuana, Mary Jane, grass… I could go on. The point I’m trying to drive home is that you need to know which search terms are worth your energy and which ones to skip. See what I did there?
Is It a Strategy or a Tactic?
How can you tell if your strategy is actually a tactic in disguise? One way that I try to identify if something is a tactic is whether it can be executed and bring results while running without outside support or interference. A strategy is a plan of attack that can combine any number of optimization elements to capture as much of the marketplace. Depending on your business, industry, and goals, you may employ one or two of these. But maybe you’ll need all of them. The most common components of a modern SEO plan encompass several tactical areas:
The act of optimizing the on-page elements of a webpage — meta tags, internal linking, H-tags, images, URL naming, et al. This is low-hanging fruit and will have the biggest impact on your SEO. Without a well laid out on-page approach, all the other stuff won’t matter.
Although it says it in the name, this is still just a tactic — albeit a comprehensive one. It is an avenue to attract visitors to your site. You should have a roadmap that you follow, achieving incremental goals, like page views and time on site metrics. Your content should be attracting visitors to the top (or near the top) of your conversion funnel. Get those long-tail keywords. Build trust and credibility. Convert.
From pagespeed to crawl-rate optimization, Technical SEO can have a profound impact on your organic performance. Creating a plan for which pages to show to the search engines, minimizing files and scripts, and identifying the proper site hierarchy are all pieces in the framework.
Good backlink building is painstaking and takes time. You know the value of high-quality websites linking to your site. They signal to Google that your website is trustworthy and reliable. You may have a plan that you follow to earn new backlinks, but this is just a piece of the blueprint.
Earning Featured Snippets
Google’s featured snippets have quickly emerged as a defining presence in the search world. Everybody is talking about them and everybody wants them. These little boxes in the search results can catapult your website above the competition. Which, in turn, vastly increases your prominence, establish your authority, and generally earn higher click-throughs in an otherwise crowded market.
How To Know If Your Strategy Is Working?
Implementing a strategy consists of all the decisions and activities and then some mentioned above to turn these choices into reality. The overarching theme here is getting the right people to your website — you won’t always be successful at this, but continuously refining your processes, targeting, and messaging you will make progress.
“Of course, almost by definition, a strategy can never actually be fully implemented because everything that you necessarily assumed when formulating it — about customers, technology, regulation, competitors, and so on — is in a constant state of flux.”
So you always need to be checking in — reviewing, analyzing, iterating — to make sure your methods are still effective. Make sure you’re moving in the right direction. Set a timeline and have markers along your route to make sure you’re progressing. Defining your SEO Strategy will help you and your team manage the work and performance in an organized manner, ensuring that you are reaching your goals.