Maybe you’re an expert on SEO strategy development already. If you are, feel free to skip down a little, because I’m going to start out by explaining what SEO is and why SEO strategy development is so important.
Let me set the scene for you: you’ve been working on your content marketing for a while.
Maybe you’ve had a blog running, or maybe you’ve got guests contributing to your site.
Or maybe you’ve just got your main site, and you haven’t started your content marketing yet. That’s okay too.
You’re running your site, and maybe you’re even getting some pretty good traffic numbers through social media marketing. But those numbers still aren’t everything they could be, are they?
Of course not! You know as well as I do that when a business owner decides traffic is “good enough,” it’s time to count down till their site goes bye-bye.
Now, of course, I know that’s not you. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
But you also wouldn’t be here if your search traffic were through the roof or if you were getting so many orders you didn’t know how to fill them. Fair enough?
So I’ll level with you: your traffic’s not what it could be, your sales are in trouble, and you’re looking for solutions. Is that pretty much the situation for you?
I thought so.
Well, SEO strategy development can help with all that. It can blow your search traffic through the roof, bringing you targeted visitors who are already looking for what you have to offer.
With solid SEO, you can get your content the traffic it deserves, and you can draw traffic from the visitors who are most likely to buy. SEO can tighten up your sales funnel and give you the results you’re looking for.
Are you seeing dollar signs? Great!
Now, as you read along in this article, here’s what you’ll find:
- A description of what SEO strategy development can do for you, including:
- What SEO is.
- What SEO is not.
- How SEO can help your business.
- A guide to putting together your SEO strategy, focusing on:
- Setting objectives and metrics for success.
- Selecting keywords and ranking for search engines.
- Integrating your site into the link structure of the internet.
- A primer on how to integrate SEO into your existing online marketing strategy, emphasizing:
- SEO is only a part of a winning online marketing strategy.
- The value of combining good SEO with good content marketing.
- The combined power of SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing.
Are you ready? Great! Then let’s get started.
Part One: What is SEO?
So as long as we’re getting started, we might as well start at the beginning: SEO stands for search engine optimization. (I know it can seem intimidating at first, but I promise it’s not.)
So what’s search engine optimization mean, you ask? Good question.
Simply put, SEO is a set of techniques that help internet users find your site on search engines like Google. Google is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to search engines, because 68 percent of searches come through there.
Why’s it so important to optimize for search engines?
Let me put it this way: have you ever taken a look at the amount of results your average Google search gets?
Just out of curiosity, I tried it out. I just did three Google searches, and all three of them had results in the millions (one was even in the billions!). Take a look:
Maybe the numbers will be different by the time you read this, but you get the point: there are massive amounts of results for just about every search. It’s easy to get buried in the clutter.
Let me ask you a question: how often do you go to the second page of your Google search results? The tenth page? The hundredth page?
That’s what I thought. Now, are you starting to see why SEO is so important?
So how does it work? Well, to tell you that, I’ll have to tell you a little about how search engines work. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible, I promise.
Search engines work by having certain algorithms (known as “spiders” or “crawlers”) go through the web and compile lists of results.
Then when somebody makes a search, there’s another algorithm that determines the relevance each result has for each query.
Google keeps that algorithm pretty secret, but we know enough about it to do the work that lands your site on the first page of the Google searches that matter.
So, are we all clear on what SEO is? Or at least a little clear?
That’s great. Now let’s move on, and I can help clear up some of the misconceptions around SEO.
What SEO Isn’t
Before I go any further in helping you with your SEO strategy development, I want to clear up these three mistakes people often have about SEO:
- Misconception number one: SEO is keyword-stuffing.
- Misconception number two: SEO is too technical and too involved to be any use to me.
- Misconception number three: SEO is always a simple, easy, overnight solution.
If you’ve heard a little about SEO in the past, it’s easy to come away with the idea that it’s a bunch of keyword stuffing.
There was a time when that was more or less true. Or at least, there was a time when you could simply load up your site with as many keywords as possible and crank out a first page ranking.
The problem with that was that pages full of gibberish and really low-quality content were ranking on the first page of Google. It was spammy, ugly, and not very useful for search engine users.
So in 2011, Google let out their Panda update, changing their algorithm massively. This was one of the most significant Google updates ever. It heavily penalized keyword-stuffing and sent many low-quality sites down into the low rankings they deserve.
These days, good SEO strategy development means using keywords usefully, naturally, and intelligently. And that’s good for all of us.
Another thing you might have heard about SEO is that it’s an arcane and insanely technical process you’ve got no chance of mastering.
Let me clear that one up for you: SEO is not the most technical process in the world. True, there’s a lot involved. There’s a learning curve. There’s plenty of material out there you’ll need to study, and it’s important to keep updated on important changes to search engine algorithms.
But let me promise you this: with time, effort, and a little guidance, you can learn how to do SEO on your own.
Last of all: some people might have given you the idea that SEO is a quick fix.
It’s not. Sometimes it can take a few days for a new page to start ranking for the keywords you’ve picked. Sometimes something goes wrong, and it doesn’t happen for you at all.
That’s why I want to make this clear: the best way to make SEO work for you is to use it as part of a solid content marketing strategy. But more on that later.
For now, let’s get to what SEO can do for you.
How SEO Strategy Development Can Help You
The bottom line is this: good SEO can drive sales.
How can it drive sales? Well, thanks for asking!
Good SEO is about more than just driving traffic to your site. It’s about driving the right traffic.
I’ll get into this more in-depth later on, but let me put it this way: if you’re selling refrigerators, would you rather be in the first page of results when people search for “refrigerators,” or when people search for “where can I buy a refrigerator?”
Before you answer that, let me draw your attention to a few things, okay?
Now, I don’t have the numbers on this, but I’ve got a hunch that “refrigerators” gets a lot more searches than the other one. That’s one point in favor of “refrigerators,” right?
Here’s the thing about high-volume keywords like that: they can get thousands, or even millions of searches per month. And what does that mean?
That means Wal-Mart and all the other huge department stores have already shelled out huge amounts of green to be able to rank on page one. The competition is fierce. Even if you could win out, it might take months or years.
It’s not sounding so good right now, is it? And that’s not the worst of it, either.
Why not? The simple fact is this: there could be any number of reasons why someone would do a search for “refrigerators.”
Maybe they’re looking for a picture.
Maybe they want to know how they work.
Maybe they’re just wondering if Wal-Mart really does come up in the number one spot.
The point is: it’s hard to win on an open-ended keyword like that, and it’s very likely that the users who make the search aren’t currently interested in buying your product.
So what’s the trick? You’ve got to find keywords with less competition and more user interest in buying.
That’s what SEO strategy development is all about, and that’s why choosing keywords is so important. As you read along, we’ll get into more detail about that in Part Two.
Part Two: Putting Your Strategy Together
Like anything else worth doing, good SEO strategy development starts with setting the right goals. Without clear, measurable goals, you’re sure to end up confused and chasing after the wrong things, right?
When you’re running your business, do you set goals and then figure out what you’re going to do to reach them, or do you just muddle through what you’re doing with no long-term structure at all?
Of course you figure out the goals first!
In anything I do in life, I set a clear goal and I learn exactly what I’m going to do to make it happen. I learn how I’m going to measure my success, and I learn what benefits I’ll get from it.
Putting together a winning SEO strategy is the no different.
So: what results are you looking for with your SEO strategy?
Are you trying to increase traffic to your site? Are you trying to increase sales and conversion rates? Or are you trying to improve the levels of engagement with your content marketing campaigns?
Different goals mean different ways of solving the problem. For example, if you’re only trying to increase traffic, you won’t be as interested in targeting keywords that focus on buying. Make sense? Good.
When you have different goals, you’ll calculate your return on investment in different ways.
If you’re driving sales, you’ll measure ROI straightforwardly: you’re interested in revenue per dollar spent.
If you’re looking for increases in traffic, you’ll measure in visitors per dollar spent.
If you’re looking for increased visitor engagement, you’ll measure in comments or shares per dollar spent.
The best part is, these figures will increase over time.
How’s that? Well, with services like Salesforce and Google analytics, it’s easy to tell which parts of your SEO marketing campaign are working, and which ones aren’t pulling their weight. And that means you can constantly calibrate your approach to make an ever more valuable tool in SEO strategy development.
Where the Magic Happens: Selecting Keywords
See? I promised you I’d come back to talking about keywords. If you’re getting the impression that keywords are an important part of SEO strategy development, you’re absolutely right.
A good keyword can win you massive traffic, and a bad keyword can leave you stuck without traffic, without visitors, and without a hope in the world. That’s why it’s important to choose keywords carefully. You don’t want to gamble all your time and effort on a keyword that’s “good enough.”
Now, I’m sure you’ve already got the idea that keywords are pretty important for SEO, so I won’t beat that dead horse, okay?
And you already know it’s good to pick keywords that come from people who are interested in taking action, so I won’t tell you about that either.
By now you’re probably wondering what I am going to tell you. Right?
I’m going to tell you a little about keyword research.
It’s extremely important to get the right keywords when you’re doing SEO marketing. If you get the wrong keywords, you get no traffic, or if you’re lucky you get the wrong traffic.
So you’re going to want to get to know a few solid keyword research tools. If you can figure out how to use it, you can try your luck with the Google AdWords keyword tool. (It’s free!)
Or, if you want to try something that’s actually pretty intuitive and gives you useful information in a way that makes sense, Moz offers a free 30-day trial on their keyword tool.
(I probably don’t have to tell you which one I prefer, but then again I’m in the business. If you don’t think a little functionality and ease of use are worth a little green, I guess that’s up to you.)
Anyways, let’s get past all the keyword work and figure out some of the other things you’ve got to do to get the best rankings.
Getting Integrated: Links and Building Authority
Okay: you’ve got the biggest part of your SEO strategy development over and done with. Are we finished? Not by a long shot!
Once you get your keywords picked out, you’re going to want to figure out how you’re going to integrate your site into the link structure of the internet.
If that makes absolutely no sense to you, don’t worry, I can explain.
Remember those web crawlers I was talking about earlier? Well, when they’re going through the web to compile their map, they’re not only concerned with the actual content of your page. They’re also looking to find out how well your site is connected to the rest of the internet.
Now, why do they do that? Because part of the Google algorithm tracks your site’s authority. A site that ranks highly in authority will be a site that many other sites in the same niche link to.
That’s pretty intuitive, isn’t it? Because if you’ve got a site that gets linked to often, that means it’s probably a site with reliable information and a thriving community of regular users. Sites like Forbes, Buzzfeed, or the Huffington Post would be examples of very high-authority sites.
Now, don’t worry, you’re site doesn’t need anything like that level of authority to increase your sales tremendously. All you need to do is generate a good reputation for your site. If you offer good information to people in your niche, you’ll be able to increase your authority over time.
But that doesn’t mean you just have to sit around and wait for authority to just happen to you.
You build a little authority when you link to authority sites in your articles.
Your SEO strategy development gains authority when you get comments on your articles, or social media shares.
You even add a little authority when you share your own work on social media.
The important takeaway here is that there are simple, everyday ways you can increase your site’s authority over time. Things like:
- Regularly linking to high-authority sites in your niche.
- Spreading the word on social media.
- Guest posting on the most high-authority sites you can get to listen to you.
- Building a community on your site. That means not only asking for comments, but responding to the people who reach out to you. A helpful and responsive web presence pays off in good will and authority, but (most importantly) in human relationships.
So now you’re pretty much done with your SEO strategy development. What happens now? Now it’s time to integrate your SEO into a larger online marketing plan.
How? Read along and find out.
Part Three: SEO and Online Marketing
Once you’re done with your SEO strategy development, it’s important to remember that SEO is only a part of your online marketing program.
Okay, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. I’m sure you could run a site that’s just a couple of pages of targeted keywords, and you can end up with little or no search traffic.
The fact is, a website alone isn’t enough. SEO strategy development alone isn’t enough. Unless it’s part of a bigger overall strategy, it’s not going to get the kinds of results you’re looking for.
What are your options for marketing online? Honestly, they’re nearly endless. You could try:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Paid advertising, including:
- Social media ads
- Search engine ads
- Banner ads
- Affiliate marketing
- Cold email
- Warm email
- Video marketing
- Guest posting
- And a million other things that aren’t immediately springing to mind right now…
But if you’re looking at SEO strategy development, you’re best bet is going to be combining SEO with content marketing, so I’ll tell you about that in just a minute.
Now, what is content marketing? It’s probably a term you’ve heard before, but you’ve never actually heard somebody define it. So I’ll give it my best shot.
The way I see it, content marketing is a way to make the content on your website generate demand for your products and services. You can probably already figure out how you’ll turn that into SEO gold, but if you give me a chance in a little while I might be able to tell you something that surprises you.
Social media marketing is another great tool to combine with SEO, so I’ll tell you a little more about that further down in the section.
Social media marketing, just like content marketing, is all about creating demand for your products and services.
But we all know it’s not only about creating demand. Over and above that, it’s about building a relationship of trust with your audience and letting them know you’re someone they’ll want to work with or buy from.
It’s about showing them that you’re the same kind of person they are, and you’ve got the same concerns they do.
How do you do that? Well, follow along and I’ll show you.
Old Reliable: Content Marketing
What makes for good content marketing?
That’s simple. Good content marketing is content that’s useful for your ideal customer.
How do you do make content that’s useful for your customer? Well, that’s simple too: you figure out what they need, what you can do for them, and how you can show them the value you’ll give them over time.
And once you’ve done that, you show them how it’s done.
What’s that look like? Well, let’s say you’re running a B2B business, okay? Let’s say you do landscaping for large-scale properties like campsites and industrial parks. A good overall content marketing strategy would be to write about how people could do it for themselves.
But wait, you ask, aren’t we supposed to be drawing customers here? Why would we want to tell them how to do it?
- A smart business owner knows his or her time is too valuable to spend on doing something a professional has spent years mastering.
- With good SEO strategy development, a how-to guide is almost guaranteed to draw more traffic to your site than a more aggressive sales pitch.
- Content marketing is about building trust and buying desire over time, not making an immediate hard sell.
Your ideal customers are smart people. They know it’s better to go to a professional than to end up with some ugly hedges outside the office window.
But do you want to know the best part?
Let me tell you: if you’re smart with your SEO strategy development, you can have it both ways. You can use content marketing to make quick sales and slower, long-term sales.
How? Well, you can target keywords that signal your users are ready to buy. (Remember “where can I buy a refrigerator?” from earlier? I’m talking that kind of thing.) That way, each of your content marketing pages generates a steady stream of pre-qualified prospects.
Good and well, you say, but how can I build those long-term relationships that lead to sales?
Never fear. That’s when we bring in the social media.
Three-in-One: Content Marketing, SEO, and Social Media Marketing
Okay: so you’ve done your SEO strategy development. You’ve worked out your keywords, and you’re letting out a stream of quality posts that are leading to some quick sales.
Let’s turn up the heat.
With social media, the best strategy for selling is to never look like you’re selling. If you look like you’re selling, you immediately get packed off and sent to the part of social media that only the spambots actually look at.
What does terrible social media marketing look like?
Well, it looks a lot like this. How often have you seen this automatic DM on Twitter:
Thanks for the follow! Since you don’t know me and we’ve never talked before, you should just go ahead and like my Facebook page, connect with me on LinkedIn, and buy all my products.
Thanks again buddy,
Marvin Fakename, CEO of Fakename Industries
That is the absolute worst of social media marketing. It doesn’t build trust, it doesn’t allow the customer to choose the timetable, and it doesn’t even give me any reason to think Marvin Fakename knows what he’s talking about.
With good social media marketing, you gradually educate your followers about your offering. You don’t rush them into anything, and you don’t apply very much pressure at all.
The key to good social media marketing is to keep your message consistently present for your ideal customers, so you can invite the best kind of people to take a look at your site.
If you’re lucky, they’ll be so wowed by what they see that they’ll immediately contact you wanting to do business. But that’s not what good social media marketing is about. What is it about, you ask?
Good social media marketing is about building a human relationship over time. It’s about allowing your customer to choose to act when they feel comfortable. And it’s about building a thriving community of like-minded human beings around your site.
When you combine SEO strategy development, content marketing, and social media marketing, you’ve got the chance to make something special.
You Can Do This
Well, that’s my guide to SEO strategy development. I hope you find value in it, and I hope you don’t find it too overwhelming.
Because I know there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to working with SEO. The fact is, content marketing can be a nerve-wracking subject, especially if you don’t have a lot of practice with writing.
But the fact is, with time and dedication you can learn how to get these things to work. There’s a bit of technical know-how and research to be done, but this should give you a solid starting point for your future endeavors.
With good SEO strategy development, you can draw the right kind of traffic to your site. You can build great relationships with the people you’re meant to do business with. And in time, you can make a thriving business based on building human relationships, one at a time.
I hope I’ve managed to show you the value of SEO as a strategy, and that I’ve helped you come up with at least a few ideas as to how you could apply it to your own business.
As always, I hope you’ll feel comfortable to get in touch with me if you’ve got any comments or questions, and I wish the best of luck to you and your business. Thank you very much for reading.