The SEO strategies that will be most effective going forward will help you meet Google’s simple mandate of comprehensively answering a search query with your website content. According to Google, the world’s most powerful search engine will continue to follow three basic steps to generate results from web pages: crawling, indexing, and ranking.
The search engine optimization strategies that you need to continue to employ in the future should be designed to help Google crawl your site more efficiently, index your content properly, and rank your website pages as high as possible for all relevant search queries.
The goal of an SEO program is to generate quality leads and valuable customers through the organic channel. The KPIs we use to measure success in an SEO campaign are keyword rankings, organic traffic, new contacts through the organic channel and ultimately organic revenue. SEO strategy refers to the research, planning and implementation of deliverables or tactics designed to improve these KPIs on an ongoing basis.
Despite everything that seems to be changing at an increasingly rapid pace, the fundamentals of SEO strategy that have been successful over the last couple of years will remain the same moving forward. These strategies, like focusing on a mobile-first design, keyword research, technical audits and others are outlined below to help prepare you for SEO success.
According to Google, mobile-first indexing was enabled by default for all new websites starting in July 2019. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a site when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user's query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent.
Moving forward, the focus on mobile will be even more critical and should be at the forefront of all web development and SEO efforts. This also includes focusing on user experience and optimizing for Core Web Vitals which were introduced in July 2020 and will become a ranking factor in 2021.
This fundamental strategy begins with keyword research that leads to identifying the most relevant search queries to target in an SEO campaign. Tips for conducting keyword research properly include identifying which search queries your website is ranking for initially, while also analyzing which keywords your competitors are having success with.
From there, thoroughly reviewing your product or service pages while also finding alternatives to your list of search queries so far should also be pursued. This initial list, which will continue to grow throughout the campaign, should include roughly 100-150 keywords at kick-off.
After constructing your keyword list, the next step is to map out which pages you plan to optimize for which keywords. This strategy also sets up your on-page optimization schedule for future months. In the majority of cases, if a page is already ranking well for a keyword, you will want to continue to associate it with that same page.
Each page should be optimized for different primary keywords so that you are not competing with yourself for rankings. If there are relevant search terms on your list that you do not have a page you can reasonably associate it with then you will want to explore creating a new page to target that term.
Different tools can be used to run a technical SEO site audit, including Screaming Frog, BrightEdge, Ahrefs or SEMrush. This strategy helps you identify errors on the website that need to be corrected in order to help Google crawl and index your site as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Along with leveraging a tool like SEMrush, you should also be regularly reviewing Google Search Console for feedback on how to identify issues or technical opportunities in the future.
A backlink audit identifies which domains or pages are linking to your website. Along with providing metrics on how many websites are linking to your site, this audit will also highlight which pages those links are coming from, and which pages are most valuable to your backlink profile. The backlink audit will also identify which links are toxic and need be disavowed through Google Search Console.
By using Google’s Disavow Tool, you are telling the search engine that even though this “spam” website is linking your site, you do not want this hyperlink nor did you ask for it to be placed. This will help keep your backlink profile healthy and prevent your site from being impacted adversely. The backlink audit will also help you develop relevant link-building campaigns to target in the future.
The quickest wins in terms of organic traffic are always related to striking distance keywords. In a general sense, striking distance keywords refer to terms that are close to ranking on the first page of Google’s search results. From Kuno’s perspective, we consider any keyword in the top-30 to be within striking distance.
You can identify striking distance keywords for any website by using SEMrush’s Organic Research Tool. The relevant keywords ranking between No. 11 and No. 30 would be the first place to focus — the closer to No. 10, the better chances you have of moving it to the first page.
Homepage optimizations start with keyword research that best summarizes what your business is about. What is the overview keyword that best summarizes your space? How can you best describe what your company’s business is about as efficiently as possible?
After identifying those keywords, place them in your meta title, meta description, H1 and copy. Also include a sentence or two that directly defines or explains what your business is about on the homepage.
Find target keywords you want a page to rank for that is focused, relevant and has good search volume. Make your target keyword the first word in your page title if possible. Define your target keyword in the first sentence of the page copy (think of this as targeting a featured snippet/quick answer result). If your keyword could be the first word of that initial sentence, that would be ideal.
Also, include CTAs in your meta description and try to construct those meta descriptions in a way that entices someone to click on it. Make sure your SEO content strategy includes an ideal keyword density of around 1%-2% throughout the page along with relevant supporting search terms as well in addition to your primary targets.
Are you an e-commerce website that is selling products? If so, product schema should be incorporated into your SEO strategy. Schema can also be added to articles, FAQ pages, videos, recipes, degree courses and more.
You should explore schema.org to implement organization schema, product schema, article schema or any of the most pertinent schema markup types whenever possible to help Google crawl or index our sites as effectively as possible.
If you do nothing else for your local SEO strategy next year, work through your Google My Business profile and fill out as many fields as accurately as you possibly can. In SEO, you often hear about the importance of making sure your NAP (name, address and phone number) is consistent across all web properties. This is especially critical in optimizing your Google My Business page. In addition, you will also want to make sure the category, website, hours of operation, description and photo sections are all filled out as well.
After accurately optimizing your profile, you can also increase your local visibility in search results by regularly managing Google Reviews, uploading quality photos, leveraging the Q&A feature, maximizing your description field and publishing GMB posts.
Regardless of how many of these strategies you plan to implement, it’s critical to measure results on a regular basis. Every month, we need to review how keyword rankings responded to your optimizations. How much more traffic did we generate? Is it the right traffic, or more directly, is that traffic leading to conversions? Monthly reporting and analyzing of the data associated with our SEO campaign are critical to molding its success moving forward.
We implemented these SEO strategies for clients like iCONN Systems and generated a 327% increase in organic traffic during a 24-month period. We expect these same fundamental strategies to help drive even more success in the upcoming year.
By following these 11 SEO strategies and implementing them to the best of your ability, your team will also have a chance to win big with SEO.