How To Create And Optimize Your 2022 SEO Strategy

How To Create And Optimize Your 2022 SEO Strategy

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.

The basics of an SEO strategy

Google logo

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.

4 core elements of any SEO strategy

Beyond the basics, any SEO strategy 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:

Technical SEO - the engine behind the scenes

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:

Graphic depicting the elements below
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Site architecture, including internal links
  • Descriptive and streamlined page URLs
  • Structured data markups for content
  • Server and host reliability

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. 

On-page SEO - the page-specific details

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:

  • Metadata - including the page title and meta description that acts as an intro paragraph to your page on the search results page.
  • Keyword optimization - both focusing on the right keywords and avoiding potential traps like keyword stuffing.
  • Image optimization - ensuring that they're just the right size and include ALT tags for accessibility purposes.
  • Digestibility formats - bulleted lists, tables of content, HTML tables, and so on.

Content writing - the value part of the equation

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.

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. 

A graphic representing the vast amount of search terms related to SEO

The goal of your content needs to be to attract, educate, and engage users.

  • Attract - Capture your users attention with a great headline, compelling image, answer their question and most importantly, be discoverable on whatever medium the users is navigating. 
  • Educate - Your users are asking questions, be sure that your content is answering them with thorough and thoughtful answers that show you understand their problems. 
  • Engage - Once you’ve answered their questions, have a strong Call-to-Action (CTA) that moves them onto the next article, onto your email list, and/or further down your marketing funnel. 
graphic showing "Attract, Educate, and Engage" from left to right


Backlinking - the third-party proof of Value

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:

  • The more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it tends to get.
  • 43.7% of the top-ranking pages on search results have at least some reciprocal links with other top results.
  • Most top-ranking pages on search results get new backlinks at an average rate between 5% and 14.5% per month.

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.

Setting your SEO goals for 2022

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.

A graphic displaying the above equation

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.

Short term SEO actions - the low hanging fruit

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.

  • Run a quality check. Tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights, Moz's Free Domain Analysis, and Sitechecker’s SEO Reports give you an understanding of where your site's current setup may fall short.
  • Fix your on-page technical problems. For all or at least most of your pages, make sure you have the right title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, ALT tags, and other on-page elements.
  • Standardize your SEO processes. Build quick checklists for creating content or making other changes for your website, like a reminder to add ALT text anytime you upload a new image to your CMS.
  • Inventory your current pages. Create a spreadsheet that includes each page, where it ranks, and what its associated keywords are. This can come in handy once you're ready to optimize them.
Expert Tip: Pages will often only rank for one or two keywords, so 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.
  • Conduct keyword research. Focus on keywords that are especially relevant to your industry. Keyword research tools like Mangools (our personal favorite and a great budget-friendly option), Moz Keyword Explorer, and SEM Rush can give you metrics on popularity and competitiveness and even suggest related alternatives.
  • Identify backlink opportunities. You can start by finding authoritative websites in your industry or niche and checking your existing backlinks for potential expanded partnerships.
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.
  • Identify your marketing content channels. If you already have a content strategy in place, this step is easy. If not, review your website analytics to see what channels most visitors come from, and start to plan your presence on those channels.
  • Identify guest posting opportunities. What are some relevant websites in your industry where you could post content? Think websites like Forbes or other content networks. 
  • Identify industry experts and influencers. You could use them to promote your content, publish a guest post on your site, or even link to your site in a paid or reciprocal promotion.

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.

Medium-term SEO actions - a focus on content

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:

  • Author new pillar content based on your keyword research. Pillar pages are comprehensive guides on topics relevant to your audience and an SEO goldmine. They take quite a while to write but will continue to provide starting points for more specific content pieces based on the overall topic. For each core keyword, you should have at least one comprehensive pillar page.
  • Consistently promote your pillar content on your ideal marketing channels. If you have a content calendar in place, use it to strategically plan out promotional nuggets from your pillar pages over time. For example, a single statistic or quote could make for a great Instagram graphic, while a short explainer video might be a better fit for Facebook or LinkedIn. 
  • Work to incorporate influencers into your promotional strategy. Influencer marketing is complex in its own right, but a few simple tactics can help you leverage some of its benefits. For example, if you get a quote from an expert your audience respects for one of your pillar pages, that expert might be willing to share your article (and their quote) to their audience, expanding your reach.
  • Optimize your other web pages with keyword-rich content. Of course, not every page on your website is pillar content. Don't ignore sections like your homepage, About Us page, or product pages. Each of them can benefit from a content review and optimization based on the results of your keyword research.

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.

Long-term SEO actions - the next level

Graphic showing eight blog posts connected to a single landing page

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:

  • Publish supporting articles for your pillar content. Find the subtopics within your pillar pages that are especially relevant to your audience and prominent within your keyword research and build supporting content for them. In a comprehensive SEO guide that might mean individual articles about keyword research, building backlinks, and more. This also gives you an opportunity to create internal links between your individual pages, a crucial component of your technical SEO.
  • Publish guest post articles to build reciprocity. The potential influencers you've identified may be very willing to reach their audience through your website. Check in with them to see if they'd like to post guest articles. Chances are they'll link to them in other channels, creating a reciprocity from which both your SEO and your influencers' credibility and reach will benefit.
  • Work on your link building strategy through backlinks and guest posts to build credibility. Remember those guest post opportunities you've uncovered? Now is the time to leverage them. Propose guest posts in areas you're uniquely qualified to discuss and that put your business expertise in a positive light. You'll be able to link back to your website, which can become the beginning of a more comprehensive link building strategy.

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.

Creating an SEO strategy to succeed in 2022 and beyond

Graphic of calendar pages showing January, April, and Novembers. There is a date circled in January that reads "SEO goal #1", a date circled in April that reads "SEO goal #2", and a date circled in November that reads "SEO goal #3"

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.

Of course, getting there takes time and budget. That's why 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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