Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is hardly a new concept in the world of digital marketing. For the past decade, marketing teams have been tooling and re-tooling their materials, content and websites to garner higher search result rankings. In 2021, SEO is considered fundamental to effective digital marketing. A business that fails to make SEO a priority is simply a business behind the curve.
Despite the increase in SEO efforts, many marketing teams still seem to misunderstand the basics of smart SEO configuration. Deciding what SEO tasks are a priority can be difficult for the inexperienced. Moreover, the technical aspects of SEO are often unclear to most personnel working in sales and marketing. If you want to configure your marketing efforts to make the most of SEO, this is the article for you. We’ve assembled this helpful guide to the five most important steps in search marketing.
Step 1: Choose Which Pages You Will Optimize and Promote
It’s a good idea to consider SEO when building new pages and content, but optimizing existing pages requires prioritization. Reworking content and site pages can get expensive fast when you involve all of the creative and technical staff required. To be efficient, you must decide which pages you will optimize and promote as part of your initial search marketing strategy.
Which pages should your team choose? The answer to this question is determined by your business sector and your product/service specialization. Service companies tend to get the best results by focusing on their best service rate offer pages. Medical specialty clinics, conversely, might find better success by optimizing pages for their most popular procedures.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with your optimization, start by looking at your current best ranking pages first. Optimizing those pages for even better results will always be your most cost-effective option.
Step 2: Conduct a Competitor Analysis
Now that you have chosen which pages to optimize first, it’s time to start looking at how the competition is ranking. You will want to examine both their on-page and off-page tactics closely. Here are the data points you want to check out first:
- Page element and content keywords.
- Images/alt tags.
- Meta descriptions.
- Structure of content.
- Length of content.
- Loading speed.
- Mobile browsing optimization.
- Backlink count leading to target pages.
- Backlink type (directories, listings, blog mentions, etc.).
Of all the factors you analyze, keywords deserve the most attention. If your competitors are ranking in the first ten results on Google and you aren’t, they probably have better keyword optimization. The easiest way to correct this shortcoming is to layer additional keywords using synonyms, latent semantic indexing keywords and long-tail keywords. Digital tools like Ahrefs, Moz or Google AdWords are all excellent for keyword selection research and planning.
Links also provide a significant amount of useful data, too. Using a site explorer tool like Ahrefs will give you a complete list of links and where they send visitors to competing pages. Backlinks will also be visible for analysis, so take a few extra minutes to view those as well. The information you gain from link research can be instrumental in developing your own search marketing strategy.
Step 3: Compose and Compare Multiple Strategies
Once you have completed your competitor analysis, it’s time to play the comparison game. What on-page and off-page optimization tactics are they using that make their pages the most effective? Once you have the answer to that question, you are ready to compose or revise your search marketing strategy. Here are some questions to consider as you determine what your competitors are using that is most effective:
- What are the primary keywords your competition uses on targeted pages?
- Is your competition using LSIs (Latent Semantic Indexing)? How many do they use?
- What is their keyword density?
- Are any of the main keywords in the first 100 words of page content?
- Do they use keywords in URLs, titles, headlines and/or subheadings?
- Do any alt tags include main keywords or LSI?
- Are meta descriptions written properly? How do you know?
- What is the length and structure of typical content on their pages?
- What visual elements are at play? How are they search optimized?
- Do pages contain sufficient bulleted lists and/or white space?
- Are social buttons present? Can visitors comment?
- What internal and external links are present?
- How does your competition place links in content?
- What is the average page loading time?
- Is their mobile web optimization in place?
- Do sites use AMP?
- Are pop-ups at play on the site?
- What are the page age and authority listed for competing pages?
- How fresh is the page content?
As you discuss these questions, write down a list of what each targeted page you are optimizing is missing. Sometimes it’s specific keywords, trusted links, superior visuals, page structure or other features. The most important component of this step is to truly understand what SEO tactics your competition currently implements better than you do. Once you know that, begin to build your own strategy and pages to improve on their success.
Step 4: Analyze On-site Behavior Factors for Targeted Pages
By Step 4, you should have a fairly solid strategy mapped out for better SEO on- and off-site. Now, you are ready to focus on factors like design, usability and user behavior on your targeted pages. Of these factors, user behavior is the one you want to watch closely when a targeted page isn’t performing. Bounce rate, average time on page and goals (conversions tab) on your Google Analytics dashboard should provide the clearest picture.
If you pull reports on these metrics after optimization and see no improvement, you may need more direct help with analyzing user behavior. Heatmap tools like CrazyEgg or Lucky Orange provide you with an overview of how visitors view, read and interact with your page content. If users are scrolling through your pages and skipping over images, you may need more engaging visuals.
If visitors are bouncing after a scroll through, they may be struggling to find engaging content. After analyzing the heatmap report, make a list of where your most troublesome interaction areas are for targeted pages. Do your best to correct the issues that are interfering with potential conversions, and start preparing content for step 5.
Step 5: Put Your Best Strategy Into Action
By the time you reach this step, you should have all your data collected and analyzed. You are finally ready to begin working on your search marketing strategy. Here’s what’s next:
- Optimize your first targeted page using the results of your site data and competitor analysis. Then, continue to optimize more pages as time and budget allow.
- Verify optimization is improving performance. If you find your search ranking is not improving, investigate to find out why you are still not getting results.
- Use your knowledge of search marketing strategy to move beyond the industry standard and establish your own strategies.
The end goal of any search marketing strategy is to develop your own authentic search marketing strategies to convince others to imitate you. This creates a competitive edge through innovation, and it’s tough to outcompete the company using tactics no one has seen before.
Keep in mind that a search marketing strategy is an organic, living document. Constant testing and analysis of results will direct changes and improvements on a constant basis. If you put in the work tweaking and adjusting, you will soon see an increase in revenue and value.
Your search marketing strategy is essential to effective digital marketing. Every marketing department needs to be focused on the right details and data points while ignoring low-priority pages and content. When you invest in a purposeful, well-executed search marketing strategy, you will see positive results. Is your business seeking to develop an effective and efficient search marketing strategy? The Selling Revolution team has the knowledge and experience you need to optimize your pages and content for results. Book an introductory 20-minute call with us today!