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If you’re a business owner who already has a website up and running, then you probably already know how much SEO can help you gain more visibility online. An effective SEO strategy ensures that people will find you when they conduct an online search for anything related to your business. Consider as well that more than 60% of B2B buyers conduct a generic online search as the first step in their research process; it becomes easy to understand why there’s a need for you to devise an effective SEO strategy.
Perhaps the biggest problem with SEO is that it is probably the only kind of advertising where the marketers and the platform (search engines) are often at odds with each other. Search engines have a tendency for changing the rules whenever they deem fit, and they don’t always provide advance notice. For example, the SEO of the past primarily consisted of black/grey hat tricks a few experts employed to gain high rankings. These days, those tricks no longer work and may even cause your website to get penalized.
The SEO of today requires an integrated approach, which involves a healthy mix of search optimization tactics, high-quality content, and social media marketing. The good news is that these modern SEO techniques are things you may actually enjoy implementing! They are strategies that actually make sense, which is why they make everything more interesting for both the marketer and the online audience. It goes without saying that you need to map out a modern SEO strategy in order to gain more tangible results from organic search these days.
Here are some tips on how you can build an effective modern SEO strategy:
1. Understand the search intent of your target market
In order to make sure the content you create is effective, you need to understand exactly what they’re looking for when they conduct online searches using the keywords you’re targeting. For example, if a user types in “running shoes,” is he looking for information about what sets running shoes apart from regular rubber shoes, tips on choosing running shoes, or a selection of running shoes he can choose from? The answer to this question will let you know what the user’s intent is and help you craft relevant content.
It’s understandable for you to think it’s impossible to understand what your target audience is thinking when they conduct online searches. But you’ll be glad to know that Google is also interested in gaining a better understanding of user intent. So, how can Google help you understand user intent? Start by studying Google’s search results. The variety (or lack of it) of results you see is a good indication of what the intent behind online searches using the keywords you used is.
Going back to our “running shoes” example, you may find that a majority of results on page one is a mix of different retail landing pages. This would indicate that the primary intent for this keyword is purchasing. If you are trying to rank for this keyword, therefore, you have a good chance of landing on top of search results by optimizing your website’s retail landing pages. Other than Google results, you should also take into consideration any market data you have collated as well as knowledge and information you have about your industry.
2. Build a content framework
Analyzing search results doesn’t just help you understand user intent; it can also help you build a framework for excellent content strategy. Here are a few tips on building your content framework:
Create Keyword Groups – By now you should already know that content creation needs to start with keyword research. Now, let’s say your research has resulted in you having a list of hundreds of keywords. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and have a bit of a problem choosing which keywords to target first when you create a content calendar. A quick solution would be to group together similar keywords, or those that lead to similar results.
Do the Google Research – Choose a few words from each of your keyword groups and then do the Google research mentioned earlier (for identifying user intent). The result of this research will give you an idea as to what the general user intent is for each group.
Prioritize – The next step is to prioritize your keywords according to user intent. Note that there will likely be more than one user intent per keyword group. If there is a user intent that is dominant in the group, you’d do well to create content for that keyword first. You now have a better structured framework for your content.
When creating content, bear in mind that it is no longer advisable for you to create content about your identified keywords. Rather, you need to create content that discusses topics related to your keywords. Google and other search engines have learned in recent years that articles about keywords don’t really impress users in the same way articles about topics do. So find topics that are closely related to your keywords and then create high-quality content covering those topics. And when you do, make sure your keywords are used sparingly because Google no longer appreciates keyword stuffing.
3. Cast a broad net to capture first-time visitors
One of the biggest problems a business owner may face is getting a significant amount of traffic as a result of their SEO efforts, but not being able to convert a lot of that traffic. This means you do not get a good return on your SEO investment. The reason could be that while you’re doing a lot to gain organic traffic, you may not be doing much to actively convert that traffic.
Remember that a person who visits your site after doing a Google search won’t automatically make a purchase. For all you know, it could be the first time that person has even heard of your brand. Remember as well that if that person doesn’t like what he sees on your website, he knows that he could just click on a button and he’ll be brought back to countless other results offered by Google.
You therefore need to make sure your website is able to provide the kind of information all of your target customers need. This again goes back to creating content based on user intent. You also need to make sure the experience of every visitor on your website is a good one. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and your web content is focused on addressing their needs, not on accomplishing your marketing goals. When you focus on serving your customers first, the money is bound to follow.
Other than actively working on converting first-time visits into actual sales, you should also work on encouraging each visitor to revisit your site in the near future. Sure, it’s great to get new customers, but wouldn’t it be a lot better to earn loyal customers? A good way to gain reconnects is to incorporate social follow buttons on your web pages; design the site such that visitors won’t have to go to another page to follow you on social media. You will then have to make sure your social media posts adhere to the same high standards you follow with your website content.
Having a strong presence on social media helps improve your brand’s online visibility. It also allows you to reach out to and engage with more of your target customers. Furthermore, being active on social media enables you to interact with your target audience in real time. Your social media activities can also become a great source of links that can help you build authority and show search engines that your brand is indeed relevant and therefore deserves recognition.
If your website still isn’t built to adhere to today’s SEO best practices, then you really cannot expect good results from your SEO efforts. You may not even appear in search results, much less on top of it. So if you haven’t already started, get up and work on the necessary adjustments NOW. The strategies discussed herein should help you go about the process.
Now, you may wonder, since the above discussion was primarily about content, doesn’t code matter anymore? Well, technical factors remain important, of course, but they generally do not provide as much competitive edge in terms of SEO as they did in the past. These days, technical factors can serve as barriers to your entry into the world of SEO unless you are able to craft an effective content strategy and ensure a positive user experience on your site.
SEO has indeed changed in recent years, but it has generally changed for the good of all stakeholders, so we should be thankful for these changes. And armed with the strategies discussed above, you should now be well-equipped to build your brand online, reap the benefits of your SEO efforts, and successfully grow your business. Good luck!