So, what do you know about SEO? Probably that it stands for search engine optimization. You’ve probably also heard that it's a crucial marketing component for any business.
And it’s undeniably true:
We could keep going.
The evidence of SEO's central place in modern marketing is truly overwhelming. But of course, knowing that SEO is important means little if you don't know how you can optimize your website and digital strategy to succeed in this arena.
And that's where things tend to get confusing. After all, SEO is incredibly complex.
Businesses often treat SEO as a black box: they give money to a consultant hoping to improve their rankings but not really knowing what actually needs to be done. Their place in search results may or may not actually improve, but there is no accountability for reliable improvements.
It doesn't need to be that way. It might be complex, but at its core SEO is nothing but a series of specific actions anyone can take to increase the visibility of core website pages.
In this guide we're not about to treat SEO as some type of magic trick that only PhD-level marketers and self-appointed gurus can help you solve. Instead, we'll break it down to the studs, helping you build your own SEO strategy for 2022 and beyond.
Curious about other marketing tactics to include in your 2022 marketing strategy? Discover marketing tactics your brand might be missing!
At its most basic, a comprehensive SEO strategy is based on the hypothesis that more traffic will lead to more leads, which will turn into more revenue for your business. The goal is to get more inbound traffic for your website from people searching for relevant terms in your industry.
Of course, the simplicity of that goal is also somewhat deceptive. For your SEO to be successful, your audience has to want to visit your website and spend time on it when they do. Otherwise, they'll just get bored viewing your product pages and leave without an action.
So here's the kicker: search engines like Google know when that happens. User intent and engagement are some of the most important ranking factors in their algorithm.
It's not just about making sure that keywords on your website match the keywords your audience is looking for. Instead, it's about adding true value for your audience, providing the answers to the questions they're looking for.
An SEO strategy succeeds based on its ability to not just attract people, but provide value for them so that they seek you out voluntarily. If that sounds suspiciously like inbound marketing, that's because in many ways, it is. If you can build your SEO efforts with that basic goal in mind, you're halfway to winning already.
An SEO strategy for a new website or an old one has to include four core elements in order to reach its goals: technical SEO, on-page SEO, content writing, and backlinking. Here's what each of them means:
Many of the factors Google takes into account when ranking pages aren’t actually visible to users but still influence their satisfaction when browsing a site. Think about it, would you prefer a page that loads great content in two seconds or one that takes almost 10?
All of that work in the background is considered technical SEO. Beyond the speed of your website, it can include a wide range of elements:
Think of technical SEO as the foundation of your search engine optimization strategy. Without these elements in place, even the best content won't matter. It's also the place where you're most likely to need professional help. These steps require some fine tuning like optimizing your robot.txt file or managing your 301 redirects.
Search results don't show an entire website. They show the specific pages on that website most relevant to an individual search query. That's where on-page SEO enters the equation.
This element focuses on the code and structure of each individual website. The way we've structured the varying headlines in this guide? That's actually an on-page SEO element that tells Google and other search engines exactly what type of content details to expect within an SEO strategy guide.
Of course, on-page SEO doesn't just include header tags. A variety of other elements also fall under the same umbrella:
The actual content on your website is actually a component of your on-page SEO as well. In fact, your content might just be the single most important element of any SEO strategy. It's not just about creating content, it's about creating actionable content through an SEO focus.
This is where you add the value. It's where you make sure that any questions your audience asks get deserving answers. It's how you attract, engage, and eventually convert your visitors.
There's a significant group of SEO experts convinced that, today, content and SEO are one and the same. It's a difficult claim to argue against. Sure, you need those technical elements as a baseline, but it's the content that determines where you rank.
Finding the right keywords, building topic clusters based on those keywords and writing compelling content that adds value (answers the user’s question) is vital for a successful SEO strategy. If you are running low on ideas, Answer The Public is a great tool to get the juices flowing on different types of content people are already searching for on Google.
The goal of your content needs to be to attract, educate, and engage users.
If content is how you add value, backlinks are the proof point Google needs to determine whether your content is actually valuable. It's simple: the more credible websites link to content on your pages, the more search engines will think that your content is trustworthy, original, and authentic.
That naturally impacts your search rankings. In fact, SEO experts think that backlinks are the third most important ranking factor for SEO as a whole. And research backs that up:
Of course, backlinks are much easier if the rest of your SEO elements, from technical SEO to top-quality content, are already in place. That's why a systematic approach to link building is the fourth most important element for an SEO strategy, adding independent proof that your pages are worth visiting.
Naturally, any strategy needs to include specific goals. Attracting more visitors is a great start, but not nearly enough. Instead, it's time for a math exercise.
For relevant keywords in your business, take a look at monthly search volumes. Estimate the click-through rates for the #1 position (some external research on the topic can be a great start). Multiply the search volume by the click-through rate, and then again by your average website conversion rate, and you have an optimal target volume for new leads.
Now, review your current ranking for the same keywords, and count up the leads you have received over the past year. The difference in lead volume shows you exactly how much ranking #1 for that search query would be worth to your business.
That's how you can start to set your specific, time-based SEO goals. Keep in mind that there is no cheat code to the process. Optimizing your pages, content, and website for SEO takes time, and your budget and effort will dictate the type of growth you will see. Of course, knowing the incremental value of ranking #1 can go a long way towards freeing up some extra budget for your efforts.
With that in mind, use your goals to make a specific short-term, medium-term, and long-term plan for 2022.
Think of the first third of your action plan as the groundwork. These are all the things you can do to set the stage for medium and long-term tactics that ultimately have a more direct impact on your rankings.
Expert Tip: Don't count on your homepage ranking for all of the top keywords in your industry. This is where creating multiple landing pages and blog articles comes into play.
Expert Tip: Research where your competitors’ backlinks come from to see if they have any high domain authority backlinks that you could easily gather too. Think about directories, review sites, blogs, etc.
You don't have to wait until 2022 to start with these actions. Instead, beginning now can ensure you'll be ready for that higher-impact work once the new year rolls in.
The short-term actions have laid the groundwork for your content. If you remember the importance of content for successful SEO, you know that this is where your strategy gets serious. You'll probably need a few months to get this right. But once you do, the impact on your website traffic and engagement can be significant.
Here are some steps to get you started:
With a year-long view on your SEO strategy, plan to spend at least the first three to four months on these tactics. That gives them enough room to breathe and begin developing results so you can focus on the final level of your search engine optimization.
SEO is so important that many of your competitors have likely taken at least some of the steps we've discussed so far. A strategic approach as outlined in this guide will put you ahead of them, but it's time to definitely set yourself apart with a few long-term tactics to execute:
These long-term steps can take time and require diligent follow-ups. They're best as an ongoing effort after some of the short-term and medium-term actions are covered, continuing to bolster your SEO strategy over time.
SEO is not easy. Far from it. But at the same time, it's not a magic box that few possess the key to. Break it down into its individual steps, and any business can achieve success in ranking at or near the top of relevant search results.
This was all informative as to how to create an SEO strategy, but how do I measure ROI for SEO? It’s important to set key performance indicators and to measure your progress over time. For example, if you are looking to boost traffic, you might look at the increase in unique visitors. If you are looking to rank for keywords to become a thought leader in the space, your brand could look at its authority ranking. An SEO strategy takes patience, but by setting your goals and watching them closely, you are setting your brand up for success.
If you aren´t yet a Google Analytics Pro, take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
The best time to create your 2022 SEO strategy is now. You can get the prep work out of the way, allowing you to start the new year with a strong strategy and tactical plan.
The best part: you don't have to do this alone. With a reliable partner by your side, you can succeed in anything from technical SEO to expert content writing. At Steel Croissant, we bring the SEO expertise to you. We’ll work closely with your business to get you ranking for industry-specific keywords and search terms. Ready to start the conversation? Contact us today!
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