Developing an effective SEO strategy in 5 steps

Where does SEO fit into the online marketing strategy

A significant volume of internet traffic comes from major search engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo! This is especially true if you have only a small Google AdWords budget or no budget at all.

Because it generates qualified traffic and brings on site people who know exactly what they are looking for, SEO contribution is very important. Therefore, if your website cannot be found and analyzed in order to be indexed by search engines, it's going to be harder to increase the organic traffic. This statement is especially true if you are positioned in a very competitive field. Optimizing the website for search engines so that you rank higher than your competitors is an invaluable investment.

In addition, investing time and money in the search engine optimization of your website is very important, because it provides a higher ROI than other acquisition channels. In fact, SEO costs less and allows you to remain independent in relation to paid advertising channels such as AdWords or affiliation.

So you need to develop and optimize an effective SEO strategy.

How to develop an SEO strategy

We can distinguish five main steps in the development and optimization of an «in-house» SEO strategy, that is to say, a strategy developed and implemented by you, without hiring an agency specializing in SEO.

1) SEO strategy: Choose the target keywords

Any SEO strategy begins with the choice of keywords to target on each strategic page. This will involve a lot of work, but consider it as an investment that will pay for itself!

At this stage the primary rule to respect is to avoid targeting keywords that are too different on the same page. For example:

  • Keyword 1: «Buy apples»
  • Keyword 2: «Buy carrots»

Here you must make a choice: targeting the sale of apples or carrots. The choice will depend on what you really offer on your page. And if you offer both items, you will need to create a dedicated page for each targeted keyword. This way, you will be able to attract both users: those interested in apples and those who search for carrots.

Other several factors need to be taken into account for your SEO strategy (non-exhaustive list):

  • the resources needed to achieve the goal: time, budget, staff.
  • how much potential traffic you need to generate: is that a searched term? How many users are searching for that keyword?
  • the quality of the potential traffic: the users looking for this keyword are they in my target?
  • etc...

2) SEO strategy: optimize the content

The text content is one of the most important SEO elements. It's the text that tells users and search engines what the page is about.

However, be careful not to fall into the trap of writing only for search engines.

You should always have in mind that the goal of your SEO actions is to bring targeted and high quality traffic!

Meeting both the requirements of SEO and the expectations of your targeted audience remains a difficult task. Good writing skills are a must: content must be relevant and complete, and must comply with what the users search for.

3) SEO strategy: optimize the pages from a technical point of view

As you probably know, search engines do not read the website content in the same way humans do. You must help them to read and analyze your pages. To do this, you must intervene in the HTML code of the web pages. The elements to be optimized are the following (non-exhaustive list):

When optimizing these technical elements always keep in mind the keywords that you have chosen to target.

4) SEO strategy: the linking

In this step, you will try to enhance the popularity of your site. Search engines evaluate a website's popularity based on what other websites say about it:

  • How many links does your website have? You must aim for better quality and not for quantity.
  • How popular are the referring websites? Their popularity is evaluated in the same way: based on external votes they are getting.
  • What are they writing about? At this point, search engines are trying to figure out if your website has something in common with its referrer. If yes, it is great for you, if not, then it is not that terrible !

5) SEO strategy: the review

As with any strategy, there comes a time when you need to review the SEO work and see what worked and what needs to be further optimized.

SEO strategy is no exception to this rule. Because technologies and best practices evolve all the time, you always have to adapt the strategy.

The assessment is done in two stages:

  • The first technical review is done just after the implementation of optimizations, to see if everything is in place or if there are any «breaks». For example: check if all redirects are set up, or if any alt tags are missing.
  • As for the ranking report, it must be done regularly, analyzing different «points », over a longer period of time.

It will mostly contain the rankings of the keywords you have used on the website.

This step can be done manually, but it is very time consuming. SEO agencies prefer to do it automatically.

What to analyze, among other things:

  • The ranking on the chosen keywords before and after the optimization. Keep track every time, in order to observe the evolution.
  • The number of indexed URLs/pages, to make sure that the whole website is accessible.
  • The number of websites that link to your website and the quality of these links.
  • The evolution of the traffic generated by the SEO (as shown by an analytics tool)
  • The list of keywords that are generating traffic
  • The time spent on site for each keyword (to assess the relevance of each keyword)
  • etc...

Once you have finished the analysis and drawn your conclusions, you have to restart the process of optimization.

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