At SEO Strategy Agency, our passion is in our name - SEO Strategy. We have been helping clients for years to plan, implement, execute and measure SEO strategies and success.
1. Goal Setting & Objectives
Any good SEO Strategist will sit down with the client and explore what is actually trying to be achieved. We adopt a challenge-approach to these meetings. For example, what are the expectations and are these realistic or not? Is there a good understanding of SEO and the process. From our experience, we have found an open, collaborative relationship works best, garnering the greatest results. This step of establishing client goals and expectations is not to be underestimated.
It's worth bearing in mind ethical consultant and agencies will not guarantee 'quick' results. Of course every client wants to know how long results will take and how long they will need to be making an investment and commitment to SEO. It may take months to see any signs of improvements, dependent on the task ahead, level of competition, amount of resources etc.
Where time is critical and there is a pressure to see quick results, it may be worthwhile considering using Google Ads. This can be included as part of the strategy. Ideally there would be an indirect correlation. As organic SEO improves, the PPC budget reduces.
Being open to challenge-thinking and lateral ideas is something that can be helpful at this stage. For example, companies can tend to develop their own internal lingo and terminology. However, this may not always match up with what your potentials customers use. So this may require a 'letting-go' of rigid references and terminology.
2. Keyword Research
The keyword research stage can be very valuable to be able to learn what words users use to form their search queries. It will also show us factors such as search volumes and indicate the level of competition. Google is looking how to best place our sites within the SERPs. So it is our job to ensure we have a site with useful, valuable content that satisfies our target audiences search quest and fact finding mission.
3. SEO Planning
SEO Strategy is sometimes referred to SEO approach. This actually makes sense because we need to agree the best approach along with strategies and tactics. The planning stage is about documenting the agreed steps involved. This can vary from client to client, depending how they like to work and what works best for them. The Consultant may propose a staged approach which is broken down into tasks list, maybe on a Gantt Chart for example. For example, Technical SEO and Site Health may be the first stage and this could take a look at aspects such as meta data, broken links, accessibility etc.
A top level plan could be provided to give a zoomed out, less technical overview. For example, phase one could be centred around local SEO strategy as this can tend to be something that is more achievable in a shorter space of time and then later stages could be targeting national or shorter tail keyword.
It's worth noting flexible thinking and an adaptive approach can go a long way. Plans are aimed to be a guide but not set in stone and nature of markets is they change and as marketers we need to respond and adjust accordingly. One example, could be what if your operations move to a different city. This may impact many things such as local SEO, NAP consistency, site content and these would need to be addressed and handled in a well thought out manner.
4. Site Structure & Topic Clusters
This is not a new tactic or concept within SEO. The Hummingbird Update in 2013 introduced the idea of moving away keywords to a topic focus (topical hubs or topical clusters). One problem with Web Development and SEO is they can often be treated separately, with many businesses thinking that SEO can be treated as an adjunct or a bolt on post launch. From our experience, those sites that embrace SEO within the heart of the build are the ones that reap the benefits in the long-term.
How a site is structured can impact on the user experience in either a positive or negative way. Imagine walking into a house with a hundred doors, trying to find the right one. Compartmentalising into neat and tidy topic hubs is very beneficial to the user and the search engines. It helps us move away from the spammy old technique of having a page per keyword. Google understands an SEO agency is pretty much the same as an SEO Consultancy.
5. Content Strategy
Keeping a website up-to-date and active is an important part of an effective SEO strategy. It's rare for any industry to remain completely static. Times change and things move on. In the last 10 years a lot has changes in regards to what will get a site to rank. But the adage of 'brands rank and dominate' continues to remain true. Strong brands will tend to keep their website up-to-date with articles offering useful updates, top tips and thought leadership insights. Also, they will tend to utilise different mediums such as videos, infographics, podcasts, white papers etc.
Having a well-planned content strategy can ensure a vast range of topic areas are being covered. This will avoid the spamming of the core key money making terms.
Another aspect to consider is how different types of content can increase engagement rates. We tend to advise clients not to tweet for tweet sake. A benefit of sharing content through social media is if there are enough people commenting, liking, sharing, retweeting etc it boosts your businesses brand exposure and contributes towards a trust factor. It's important to develop content that is relevant, helpful, informative and engaging.
Social media does not directly contribute to SEO ranking, but the links you share across social platforms increase brand exposure. They add up and influence search engine optimisation in six directions:
Extensive content distribution
Longer lifespan of your posts
Improve online visibility and organic traffic
Increase brand recognition.
Enhance brand reputation
Boosts local SEO
Your shares across social media sites have no place in SEO rankings. Still, when more people share your content throughout social media, it generates social signals that indicate your posts are useful to your target market.
6. Authority Link Building
Link Building can be somewhat of a contentious topic within the SEO community. Arguably, it is the one tactic over the years that has been widely abused in an effort to manipulate search engine rankings. At SEO Strategy, we certainly like to focus on aspects such as technical SEO, on-page SEO, content strategy and social media optimisation, local SEO and NAP consistency first. We would never try and build links to deceive search engines and we would never jeopardise our clients rankings and putting them at risk of a manual or automatic Google penalty.
We embrace the ethos of that one super strong, reputable quality link is worth more than a hundred mediocre links. Key partnerships and memberships is a great way to obtain reputable links but ensure it is relevant.
7. Measurement: Performance & Success
An effective SEO Strategy requires on-going monitoring, reviewing, sense checking and challenging. A successful SEO Strategist will do more than just send a client a report full of pages about links, link juice, domain authority. Of course it's important to see significant increases and decreases but the focus should be about making the reports meaningful.
If there are decline in rankings it's important to review existing content and ask questions such as:
Also, as an agency we are passionate about challenge thinking. For example, is your consultant suggesting new keywords and lateral paths how a potential visitor may enter your site. Are they discussing future trends and topical hub areas? Those who tend to discuss new topics and are early doors in seem to get kudos which pays off in higher rankings but if not on the radar these could also be lost.
Improving the rankings is half the battle, ensuring you maintain these potentially profitable positions is the other. This leads us into the final area of Conversion Rate Optimisation.
8. Conversion Rate Optimisation
Wikipedia defines Conversion Rate Optimisation as "Conversion rate optimisation is the process of increasing the percentage of users or website visitors to take a desired action."
Why is this important? If we think about what Google is trying to achieve it makes a lot of sense. Google wants to send its users to a website that they are happy to land on. If users were constantly hitting sites and almost instantly bouncing off over and over again this is going to diminish the trust users have in Google. Google's continued success and longevity as a search engine want to ensure its users are happy and confident they can trust those sites in the top spots of the organic SERPs.
GA4 has already shown us the move towards gearing sites up to be conversion focused. It's important to ensure the right metric and conversions are set up and being encouraged. It's not just about ensuring users spend 5 minutes plus on a page. A happy customer could land on a site and check out in a minute or two so it's very much dependent on the industry and type of site we are dealing with but the more conversions Google can see, the better.