How to Improve Your SEO Strategy By Working With an Agency

How to Improve Your SEO Strategy By Working With an Agency

By Dave GrendzynskiJan 18 /2018

seo-strategy-agency.jpgWhen it comes to ranking high in search, you’ll need all of the firepower you can get. If you’re driving yourself crazy by constantly looking for SEO tips and ways to optimize the content on your site, you don’t have to do it alone. You may find it much easier working with an agency to improve your SEO keyword strategy.

SEO strategy is constantly changing. That’s why it’s important to have an entire team around you to help develop a plan that will find the right keywords for your business, optimize content around those keywords, and get your website ranking as highly as possible on every search.

We asked Kuno Creative’s Vice President of Demand Generation, Shaun Kanary, for his SEO tips and how to work with an agency to develop a more robust keyword strategy.

Don't Look for a SEO Company, Look for a Demand Generation Department

Don't hire a company that just does SEO. Kanary says if you’re going to work with an agency to develop or improve your SEO keyword strategy, check to see if it has a demand generation department. These are the people who know SEO inside and out.

HubSpot calls demand generation the marketing system and engine that bridges the gap with your company’s sales and revenue operations. The demand generation team will work with you to develop the strategy content creators will use to guide prospects through the sales funnel. Demand generation is like a coach, determining the strategy before the game.

It’s their job to generate demand for your product or services. A demand generation team is involved in many areas of marketing and can help your company do things like:

  • Identify Organic Keyword Opportunities
  • Match Keywords to Content for your strongest-fit customers (buyer personas)
  • Manage Pay Per Click Advertising

Their experience with keywords (both paid and organic) gives them a "leg up" on building an effective SEO strategy for your organization.

Steps for a Successful SEO Strategy

SEO Strategy 1: Determine Keywords—The Building Blocks of SEO

The whole point of SEO is to rank for as many keyword search phrases as possible. Not just any keywords, but all of those words or phrases your customers use to find and research topics on the internet that your product helps with.

It's impossible to rank for every keyword combination out there, so start optimizing for the keywords with the highest volume (most searches per month) and lowest keyword difficulty (the lower the difficulty, the easier it will be to rank for a particular keyword).  A few things to keep in mind:

  • Volume:  If there is no volume for a keyword, don’t bother. If you’re in a niche industry, at least 300 people should be searching for your keyword(s) each month. And if you’re in a more competitive industry, search volume on your keywords should be a minimum 1,000 people a month. The volume varies from word to word, but you can still get an idea of what people are looking for.
  • Keyword Difficulty: This might be one of the most overlooked aspects of keyword research. Keyword difficulty is a cumulative score that shows you how difficult it will be to rank organically for a keyword. It accounts for the number of competitors within this space as well as their strength. As a best practice, look for keywords with a difficulty score lower than 80. A good agency will have the tools to find the words that will make it easier for your website and content to rank.
  • Who is on Page 1: You need to know the competitive landscape on Page 1, and if there are any .gov, .org, and .edu populating the first several spots. These websites (government, non-profits and schools) are difficult to outrank. In these cases, you may be better off targeting a longer-tail keyword variation or a different word altogether. While not impossible to outrank these website types, your work is cut out for you.

In essence, a keyword with high search volume and low keyword difficulty is what you want. The core intent of the keyword difficulty score is to determine how challenging it would be to get a first-page ranking by looking at who currently holds that position.

SEO Strategy 2: Perform a Situational & Competitor Analysis

If your agency is helping you improve your SEO strategy, the demand generation team will start with a situational & competitor analysis. Competitive keyword analysis is one of the most effective ways to gain a crucial advantage over other businesses in your industry. But nobody knows your rivals better than you, so Kanary says it will be up to you to guide your agency by letting them know what competitors to look at.

A competitor keyword analysis will let you see what they’re ranking for and help you build a better inbound marketing strategy.

Kuno Creative uses a tool called SEMrush. It allows you to enter a domain and view all of the keywords your competitors’ website ranks for organically. Some of the information you can get includes:

  • Which keywords are driving traffic to their website
  • How those keywords are ranking
  • What website pages and blogs are driving traffic

It’s one thing having access to a tool like SEMRush, but it’s another knowing how to use it. The agency you’re working with should be able to use a tool like this effectively. One feature of this tool is called a "Keyword Gap Analysis." With this tool, you can find all of the keywords your competitors are ranking for, but you're not. Hence, the gap. The team will review these keywords with you to establish the search phrases you want to rank for that your competitors already are.  

SEO Strategy 3: Brainstorm Additional Keywords

Once your competitor analysis is done, it’s time to start thinking about additional keywords you’d like to rank for.  Your agency should work with you in a "brainstorming" session to help establish new and relevant keywords.

You and your agency should list any and all keywords people might type into a search engine (or ask Siri to find) related to your website or a page on your website. The more words you can come up with, the stronger your strategy will become. You should use words on particular pages, plus similar and related topics.

SEMrush even has a “related keywords” feature and a “phrase match keywords” feature. They’re good for finding related keywords with high volume and low difficulty. However you do it, come up with a solid list of keywords you feel might be appropriate to optimize pages on your website for.

SEO Strategy 4: Optimize Your Website For Keywords

One of the most important things your agency can do for you is, once you determine the keywords you want to rank for, optimize your pages and content around those keywords. 

An agency would help with optimizing pages and content by doing things like:

  • Including the appropriate keyword in each title (and keep it shorter than 55 characters)
  • Making sure it’s a part of the meta description and URL
  • Determining if it shows up enough within the body of the page/post.
  • Checking to see if title has a score of at least 65 in the CoSchedule or ShareThrough headline analyzer
  • Associating content with a campaign
  • Including a call to action
  • Including a topic tag
  • Using subheads that include the keyword phrase
  • Looking for variations of the target keyword recommended by SEMrush’s content template tool 
  • Making sure the keyword and variations of the keyword are used frequently (at least 10 times) throughout the blog post
  • Including at least 2 internal links to product pages and related blogs on your own website

SEO Strategy 5: Match Content with Keyword Intent

Optimizing on-page SEO elements is only a piece of the puzzle. You also need to match the content on the page with the search intent of the chosen keyword. For example, if you search the phrase "garage door repair," would you want to see an article about buying new garage doors? No, you would want to see an instructional post or video about how you repair your garage door.  It's important to put yourself in the searcher's shoes to understand what they want, not what your business wants.  You can use the other listings on the search results page to help figure out what type of content would work. 

Your strategy, and your website, should both be fluid. You should be ready to adjust things after seeing what works and what doesn’t. Your agency can help you track what’s performing well and what content, or keywords, may need to be changed. Your agency can also help you find keywords and match them to content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.  For example:

  • Awareness: keywords focusing on the problem or symptoms a visitor may have or may be experiencing
  • Consideration: keywords centered around specific names and solutions that your product provides
  • Decision: purchase or sales keywords and content that help sell your products and services

What Should Be In Your SEO Toolbox?

Every agency should have some basic tools in their SEO toolbox. In addition to SEMrush, agencies should use the following:

  • BuzzSumo- a news topic aggregator that allows you to see the most shared and popular topics online. This is a good tool to find new and trending topics and keywords.
  • SpyFu- a tool that allows you to spy on competitor websites and gain further insight into their SEO and PPC efforts.
  • Google Auto Suggest- as simple as it may sound, the auto-suggest tool can be a good place to find more keywords and latent-sematic keywords (keywords Google finds very similar to the main keyword) to help broaden your keyword list. 
  • Google Adwords Keyword Tool- while specifically a tool used for PPC, this tool can help uncover keywords that are similar and ones that are closely related to the main topic. 
There's a lot that goes into a digital marketing strategy—especially when it comes to SEO. What worked five yeas ago may not work for you today. The key is having a team on your side to keep you ahead of your competition. The Kuno Creative Demand Generation Team can do just that.

Whether you’re revamping your SEO keyword strategy, refining it or developing a new one from scratch, working with an agency can make the process easier. Boost Your Traffic in 2018

The Author

Dave Grendzynski

Dave uses the skills that won him three Emmy Awards as a television news producer to create compelling content for our clients. Dave honed his email, blog and social media writing skills in the Corporate Communications Department at Cleveland Clinic.