The Truth of Effective SEO Strategies – How to Make Your Business Seen
You’ve invested time, money, and effort into your website. When you look at the finished product you’re extremely happy with how it turned out. But months have passed and it doesn’t seem like your audience feels the same. You’re getting almost no traction online. That’s because your website wasn’t built with SEO strategies in mind.
At Maggie Writes Copy my goal is to help you show up for your audience. Many of my clients have experienced a massive shift in traffic with little to no effort on their part. Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes and explain how it’s done.
Understanding the Basics of SEO Strategies
Understanding why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is good for your business is important.
What Is SEO – Why SEO Is Important for Business
Search engine optimization is formatting your pages so Google knows what they’re for. When a search engine crawls a website, it skims the parts of it that should be the most important. So if you haven’t put the most important information in those places, the search engine can’t tell what it is.
SEO is important for your business because it determines who sees your site. This means eyes on your products and services.
The Role of Search Engines in Online Visibility
If your website isn’t even appearing for your target audience then you have missed the mark. When a search engine feels your site answers a searcher’s question well, it places your website close to the top.
This can be huge for your website visibility. And can help you reach a much larger target audience. That’s why investing in SEO is investing in your business – the right way.
And while the upfront cost of SEO may seem steep, your website will gain more traction the more you post. Keep investing in SEO and you may wind up becoming an authority site with millions of viewers. All without paying for a single ad.
But let’s back up a minute and talk about the different terminology associated with SEO.
Common SEO Terminology Explained
There are many terms associated with SEO that can feel a bit technical.1 Or perhaps even mean something other than their everyday use.
- SEO: Search engine optimization. A method of creating content that speaks to search engines. It tells them exactly what your site is about. When the search engine can determine who your site helps, it sends you to the top of the search results. This gets you in front of your target audience.
- Keywords: Terms that people commonly type in to find the answer to a question or find a product or service.
- On-page SEO: Specific formatting used in your content to speak to search engines. Title, Headings, and keywords to name a few.
- Off-page SEO: Strategies used to bring traffic to your site from other platforms. For example link building with other websites, social media, and email marketing.
- Organic Search: When a user searches for a keyword and clicks on a non-sponsored link. By implementing SEO, the goal is to appear as the first organic search result.
- Authority: Providing answers to people’s questions builds your authority. Both with search engines and with your target audience. You also build authority through backlinks with other sites.
- Relevance: Creating content that people search for builds your site’s relevancy.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Measurements used to determine whether marketing objectives and goals are being met.
By the way, I reference Google a lot. This is because it is by far the most used search engine. With almost 92% of searches going through it.2 While other search engines do get some use, none even come close to Google.
Now that you have the basics down, let’s discuss exactly how SEO can and can’t help your online presence.
Setting Clear SEO Goals
SEO is a long-term strategy. This means you aren’t going to see results right away. If you decide to implement SEO on your website you have to put your SEO strategies in place. And then wait for Google to take notice.
Anyone who promises you instant results with SEO strategies isn’t being honest with you. It can take 6+ months of consistently showing up on search engines with new content to see any progress. But once Google notices you, you’re on your way to the top.
So how do you determine what goals you have when implementing SEO strategies?
Identifying Specific Business Objectives
You’re going to need to narrow your focus for SEO purposes. What are your specific goals for implementing it?
What is your timeline for reaching a bigger target audience?
Is your infrastructure set up to handle an influx of sales?
Are you prepared to pair it with other marketing strategies?
How are you going to measure your success?
Let’s dive deeper into that last one. It’s very important to determine whether your SEO strategies are paying off.
Defining Measurable Key Performance Indicators
There are many KPIs you can use to determine whether your SEO strategies are working. But we’re going to focus on just a couple.
- Organic traffic: How many people are finding and entering your site through a search engine?
- User Engagement: Are people clicking through to your other pages? Are they staying on a page to read, or bouncing off your site because they aren’t finding what they’re looking for?
- Backlinks: Do other sites feel your information is good enough to link to?
- Keyword Rankings: Is your business ranking for keywords and are they the keywords you’re targeting?
- Conversions and Return On Investment (ROI): Is your SEO strategy bringing you sales and how much is it costing you per sale?
These KPIs are crucial to understand while you’re working on your SEO strategy. To determine whether it is working for you or not.
Aligning SEO Goals with Business Strategy
Setting goals about what you want to achieve helps you tweak your SEO strategy over time. Make sure that your Business goals and your SEO strategy align to bring you the results you want.
Let’s go over some actionable ways to set up your SEO strategy.
Conducting Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation that drives your SEO strategy.
The Importance of Keyword Research
You have to determine what your customer wants to know, and then provide it. If your content doesn’t align with your customer’s wants, needs, or values, you’ve missed the mark.
But how do you know what your customer needs?
Tools and Techniques for Effective Keyword Research
Several tools on the internet will give you these answers. To name just a few:
You can also use Google’s search bar. Start typing in a search query and see what Google automatically populates. Or look at Google’s related search terms. This can be an efficient and easy way to see what people are looking for.
If you’re going to use Google’s search bar as a tool, I recommend doing it in an incognito window. This way it won’t tailor its results to you specifically or use your previous searches as its guide.
If you’re using the keyword tools, there are some metrics to use. To help determine what keywords are worth targeting.
Identifying Relevant and High-Converting Keywords
How do you know whether you should use or skip a keyword? Pay attention to how many searches it gets and whether people are paying to show up for that word. Most tools will tell you:
- Search Volume: This tells you how many people are searching for a specific keyword every month.
- SEO Difficulty: Will let you know how hard it is to rank for a specific keyword. Usually out of 100.
- Paid Difficulty: An estimation of how hard it is to rank for a term when you’re paying for ads. The higher the number the more people are paying to rank.
- Cost per Click (CPC): What people are usually paying Google for each click they get off an ad. The higher the CPC the more valuable the keyword is.
- Clicks on SEO search results: This lets you know if the results that pop up are answering people’s questions. Or if they are putting in new search terms to find the answer they’re looking for.
- Searcher’s age range: This can give you valuable insight into whether the search term is used by your target audience.
There are many other metrics you can look at when doing keyword research. But these are some of the most common and helpful when you are strategizing. But they won’t tell you how many keywords to put in your post.
How Many SEO Keywords Should I Use?
Ideally, you will identify one main keyword for each article. And 3-5 search terms (long tail keywords) that incorporate that keyword and also get a lot of traffic. For example
Keyword: SEO Strategy
How to implement an SEO strategy?
Keywords for SEO Strategy.
SEO strategy for businesses.
Is my SEO strategy working?
This is just an example, I didn’t check to see if these were actually good key phrases. But you get the idea. Even though you’re only choosing a few keywords, your article should naturally rank for a lot more. Let’s discuss how you plug your keywords into your content now.
On-Page SEO – The Face of Your Company
This is the SEO strategy that people will see when they visit your site. So it’s important to get it right. With your keywords mapped out, it’s time to write content and place those same keywords in the right places.
Creating Seo-Friendly Content
Your keyword research has told you what your audience is searching for. So use it to write strategic articles that give an in-depth answer to people’s questions.
The articles you write must be easy to read. Don’t fill them with a lot of jargon that people don’t understand. Google prefers to feature easy-to-read articles that anyone can understand.
Once your article’s written it’s time to format it for Google.
Formatting Your Content for Search Engines
Start by putting your main keyword into the title and the main heading (H1). Then you’ll want to use your long-tail keywords for your other headings (H2s and H3s).
Your main keyword will also go into your meta description. The snippet that Google features under your link on its search results. It describes what your article is about.
Then add it to any images you use as the alt description. Make sure that your image matches the intent behind your keyword. Google uses alt descriptions to “read” your image. Since it can’t yet decipher what an image is without it.
Finally, add your keyword to your URL slug. This is another prominent place that lets Google know what your post is about.
Where else should your keywords go?
Incorporating Keywords Naturally and Strategically
Your keywords should also be sprinkled throughout your text. Make sure that you only put your keywords in places where they make sense.
It is also a good idea to bold or italicize some keywords as you make key points in your article. This gives your keyword extra ‘weight’. Using them as links can also give them a bit more ‘juice’ in Google’s eyes.
On-page SEO is the easiest way to implement SEO strategies. Even if they aren’t the fastest methods. There are some more tricky SEO techniques that you should use as well.
Technical SEO Essentials
Technical SEO techniques are important for ranking your site on search engines. And while some are trickier than others, they are all important. First, let’s talk about site structure as this is the foundation of how your pages are lined out.
Website Structure and Navigation Optimization
Creating your site structure doesn’t have to be hard. The key thing to know is that you want your pages to all be just a click or two away from your homepage. If you have to click five different links to get to a page then something isn’t lining up right.
Keeping your navigation clear, consistent, and simple helps your SEO efforts. It makes your site easy for Google to understand. This concept goes hand in hand with another aspect of technical SEO – speed and usability.
Page Speed and Mobile-Friendliness
Simple, uncomplicated sites have the best chance of being mobile-friendly and quick-loading. If your site is slow or formatted wrong for smartphones, it will lead to a high bounce rate. People aren’t interested in waiting for answers. They want them right now.
Make sure your site is fast and mobile-friendly to keep people on your site longer. The length of time people spend on your site tells Google whether your site is relevant. Keep in mind the average time a user spends on a website in 2023 is 54 seconds.3 This may not sound like a difficult number to beat, but you’d be surprised.
Another statistic for you is, that website users form an opinion about a website within .05 seconds.3 This means if your website takes a long time to load you’ve already lost.
When you are building your website try to avoid heavy themes and huge images. Both of these will slow your site down. This goes hand in hand with keeping your website simple.
The last piece of the puzzle for technical SEO is sitemaps and indexing.
XML Sitemaps and Indexing
Once you have content written and published, make sure you have your posts set to Indexing. If you have a page that you don’t want Google to find you can request ‘No Index’.
A lot of site hosts will allow you to select an option to ‘index now’ once you hit publish. Once your content is published. It will be in your sitemap.
You can find your sitemap at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml or yoursite.com/sitemap_index.xml. Rather than waiting for Google to index your site on its own. You can submit your site directly to Google Search Console.4
The third part of SEO strategies is off-page SEO.
Off-Page SEO Strategies – Working Behind the Scenes
Off-page SEO relies on outside platforms and websites to increase your site’s authority and relevancy.
Building High-Quality Backlinks
When you create high-quality content, it can earn you backlinks from high-quality sources. If other websites with high authority link to your site, it increases your authority.
It can be hard to gain these links organically though. This leads us to guest posting.
Guest Posting and Outreach
A good way to get these links is to offer guest posts for a website. This means you will write them a blog post on a topic relevant to their site. You will be included as the contributor and a link will head back to your site.
Often you will reach out to lots of companies before one agrees to a guest post. But each link is very valuable in informing Google that your site is relevant. So it can be very worthwhile to make the effort.
Another often unexpected driver for off-page SEO is social media.
Social Media and Its Impact on SEO
No. Social media doesn’t directly impact your SEO. But, using social media to drive more traffic to your website does indirectly impact it.
- Write a piece of content that interests your audience and answers a question.
- Share it for the next couple of months on various social media platforms.
- Continue to drive traffic to each piece of content through various posts.
- Google will take notice of the traffic and note that the piece of content is relevant.
- Google will rank that content higher.
Local SEO for Brick-And-Mortar Businesses
Local SEO is so important if you’re trying to optimize your brick-and-mortar business. Nearly 46% of searches have a “local intent”.5 This has huge implications if you run a location-dependent business.
There are a few different aspects to local SEO. Relevance to what the person is searching for. Distance from the person searching. And whether Google thinks you’re important to the searcher AKA prominence.
When Google determines these three aspects they check your organic relevance (regular SEO). As well as your local relevance (such as Google business listings).
So how do you make sure your local SEO game is on point?
Claiming and Optimizing Google My Business
The easiest way to optimize your business locally is with Google My Business.6 This will put you on the map. And help establish your authority with online reviews and check-ins. Then there are ways to increase your business listing authority.
Nap Consistency and Online Reviews
Name, Address, and Phone number or NAP consistency can help your local SEO. Make sure these are the same across your platforms. This will boost your credibility with Google.
Then you add in local citations. These can be mentions or reviews. They also cement your credibility with Google and with your target audience.
We’ve covered multiple SEO tactics with a couple of different applications. But how can you tell if your SEO strategies are working?
Measuring SEO Success
Putting hundreds of hours into an SEO strategy that isn’t effective is a waste of time. It’s very important to use actual data to drive your strategy. But where do you get that data?
Using Web Analytics Tools to Drive Your SEO Strategy
An important tool to determine if your SEO campaign is effective is Google Analytics.7 If your visitors allow cookies, Google Analytics can track your audience’s every action.
This is a huge amount of data and goes hand in hand with the KPIs we talked about earlier.
Tracking KPIs and Monitoring Progress
Tracking specific KPIs based on SEO content you publish can be powerful.
- Which pages get the most traffic
- Which pages get the most conversions
- Which pages hold people on your site the longest
- Which pages have high bounce rates
Making Data-Driven Adjustments
Not only do you now know what information interests your audience the most. You can also share your page’s authority with your pages that aren’t doing as well by building links between them.
Even if some of your pages aren’t getting organic traffic (yet) you can send traffic to them to build their authority.
There are many ways to reoptimize content so it’s more relevant to Google and your audience. But there are also ways that you can hurt your site with common bad SEO practices.
Avoiding Common SEO Pitfalls
There are many SEO agencies out there that take shortcuts in their SEO strategies. While some shortcuts can help your site short term, Google’s algorithm is pretty advanced. It doesn’t take long for it to figure out what your site is doing and ding you for unethical practices. Things like keyword stuffing.
Over-Optimization and Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is putting keywords throughout your article when they don’t make sense. While you need to make sure they’re in there, your article still needs to bring value to your reader.
Several other practices aren’t ethical and will hurt your site in the long run. These are called ‘Black hat’ SEO strategies.
Black Hat SEO Practices to Steer Clear Of
Black hat SEO practices hurt your site’s credibility. They typically create a negative user experience for your audience. Here are a few strategies to steer clear of:
- Keyword stuffing (mentioned above)
- Hiding text full of random keywords all over your site
- Paying for links rather than earning them
- Using fake reviews
- Targeting negative SEO to another site to decrease their rankings. For example, pointing spammy links at them.
Staying Up to Date with Search Engine Algorithm Changes
Keep up to date with how Search Engines evolve their algorithms to help your SEO strategy. Search engines are always trying to stay ahead of the curve.
Their end goal is to create the best user experience possible so that people will continue to use them. This means they constantly change their algorithm based on actions that users take. Stay aware of Google’s crawling and scaling practices to keep your SEO strategy current.
So how does avoiding black hat SEO affect your content strategy?
Crafting an Effective Content Strategy
It’s not hard to maintain an ethical SEO content strategy. The key is to create high-quality content.
Creating Valuable, Shareable, and Engaging Content
A great way to do this is to ensure that your content is highly relevant to your audience. Speak to them in a conversational style. When you make your content valuable, rare, and relevant it becomes very sharable. People like to share things that hit a pain point for them and their friends/associates.
Another trend right now in content creation is videos and images.
Incorporating Multimedia Elements
The current top social media apps (Instagram and Tiktok), deal only with pictures and video. Adding YouTube clips to your site can decrease your bounce rate significantly. And keep your site light and fast loading. In fact, including videos on your website increases your visitor’s time spent on a page by 88%.3
Now that your content is created it’s time to make sure it reaches the right eyes.
Content Promotion and Distribution
There are many different ways to share your content with the world. Don’t expect that writing it is enough. You should plan on distributing it:
- Email newsletters
All these are great ways to get your content to the public. While telling Google that what you are sharing is relevant and valuable.
But what if you’re running an E-commerce business? Do you really need SEO for E-commerce sites?
SEO for E-Commerce Businesses
The answer is yes. SEO is extremely important to get your products noticed.
Special Considerations for Online Stores
Your goal should be to get your products featured at the top of the search results right below the paid ads. A lot of normal SEO strategies can be implemented for E-commerce businesses. But there is a much larger focus on product page optimization.
Product Page Optimization and Structured Data
Make sure you structure your product pages with keywords in your headings. In your image alt text. And throughout the product description. Short product descriptions are out these days. Instead, write product descriptions that highlight the benefits of products. Addressing your customer directly.
E-Commerce SEO Best Practices
You should still be creating relevant blog posts in your niche. Providing value to your audience. And building authority on the internet. Avoid those black-hat SEO practices and build your white-hat strategies.
But how do you keep up with the times in any SEO strategy? There is a lot to consider and keep front of mind when building your SEO campaign.
Building a Sustainable SEO Strategy
SEO is a full-time commitment. It’s important to understand all the moving pieces and stay on top of algorithm updates. If you want to continually make relevant content that ranks.
Scaling and Adapting SEO Efforts
Search Engines prefer to feature sites that post consistently and frequently. This means that one blog post every three months isn’t going to cut it for your SEO strategy.
There are a lot of different opinions out there about how many posts you should make and how often you should post. But ideally, you want to keep a consistent schedule and post at least once a week. More frequent posts may be more beneficial, but it’s often difficult to sustain that pace. Especially if you are writing all your own content.
Remember, quality over quantity is the metric you are working towards. If people aren’t interested in the topic or the content, they won’t stick around to read it.
You’re no doubt thinking this is a huge investment to make.
Long-Term SEO Benefits and Return on Investment (ROI)
The good news is that your hard work will build on itself. Your blog posts don’t have a shelf life. If you check your posts periodically to make sure they’re still relevant. That one blog post will continue gaining traction for years to come.
You may have spent a couple of hours on a quality blog post. Or maybe you outsourced it for a couple hundred. But it has the potential to bring in a limitless ROI for you throughout its life.
SEO Marketing – An Inbound Marketing Strategy
As you can see, SEO can have a huge impact on your business. Building authority and relevance brings value to both you and your audience. SEO strategies take time, effort, and some know-how. But they bring you a huge return when you use them correctly.
Not interested in building your strategy alone? Contact me for help with your online visibility and increasing your site’s authority.