If you are building an online business, you need search engine optimization (SEO). The power to guide organic traffic to your website lies in a well-crafted SEO strategy.
I will give you everything you need to boost your website’s visibility on search engine results. We will look into various topics, from mastering search intent to keyword optimization and link building. Whether you are a seasoned SEO professional or starting, this guide can help you create an effective SEO strategy.
What is an SEO strategy?
An SEO strategy (or an SEO approach) is an action plan to boost your website’s search engine rankings and organic traffic.
In essence, it is a step-by-step guide that allows you to focus on things that truly bring more visitors and revenue from SEO to your business.
How do you build a strong SEO strategy?
1. Set your goals and KPIs
The first step in creating a compelling SEO strategy is establishing a clear and measurable goal. A goal is the end outcome that you want. Your goal could be to get 5,000 visitors per month to your website.
However, you need some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure to achieve your goal. Some common SEO KPIs include organic sessions, bounce rate, page loading speed, and time on site. Tracking these metrics can help you make data-driven decisions and continuously fine-tune your SEO strategy for maximum impact.
Here are some KPIs that you should keep an eye on:
Organic traffic: The number of page visits you receive from organic search results. It is the #1 indicator for a successful SEO strategy. The more visitors you get, the more sales you can make and the more money you get.
Keyword rankings: Ranking is important because it tells you how your website is doing regarding visibility. Your website gets traffic only if it ranks in the top 10 of Google. You can use various keyword ranking tools to perform this task.
Backlinks: Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website. They are still a ranking factor on Google. It is important to build high-quality backlinks as it can increase your credibility in search engines’ eyes and help you rank higher on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
CTR (click-through rate): CTR is also an important factor for SEO. It tells you how well your website is performing in terms of attracting visitors from SERPs. A high CTR means that more people are clicking on your link, thus increasing the chances of getting more conversions.
Coverage issues: Coverage issues are all problems related to crawling and indexing. It means that search engines tried to reach your content but failed. This can be because of server errors, 404 errors, slow loading time, or even wrong HTML tags. Identifying and addressing these issues is essential because your page can only rank if indexed.
2. Conduct a competitive analysis
You don’t have to do any guesswork for your website. You only need to look at what works for your competitors, add a tweak to match your style and build upon that success.
Analyzing your competitors can help you:
Imitate what’s working for your competitors.
Identify your competitors’ weaknesses and cover them.
Prioritize your most important SEO tasks.
Step 1: Identify your competitors
You need an SEO tool to do this. In this example, I will use Ahrefs. Under Organic Search, click Organic Competitors.
Ahrefs will show you the top competitors in your niche.
Do some research for these sites and pick about 10 sites that are most relevant to your niche.
Notice that not all business competitors will be your SEO competitors. For instance, let’s say your website is selling shoes. There’s another big local shoe store in your town. However, they do not have a website. Thus, they are not a threat to you.
Step 2: Find all keywords that your competitors are ranking for
Once you have identified your competitors, find a list of keywords they are ranking for, but you aren’t. These keywords can be great opportunities for you to capture more leads.
To do this, plug in your competitor’s domain name in Site Explorer. Then hit Enter. After that, click Organic Keywords. Ahrefs will show you a list of keywords your competitor is ranking for. Look for keywords with low difficulty and high volume to target on your site.
Step 3: Research your competitors’ backlinks
Since backlink is a significant ranking factor, you should look into your competitors’ backlink profile and how you can replicate that profile.
More on this topic later…
3. Conduct keyword research
Keyword research is the most important step in any SEO strategy. If you are writing content without a target keyword, you are wasting your time.
If you are just starting, you should aim for keywords with low competition and relatively high volume. These keywords are often easy to rank, and you can begin stacking small wins. You can easily find these keywords with Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer. Type in your seed keyword and hit Search. You will see an overview of the keyword.
Then click Matching Terms to see all the ideas related to your keyword. You can further filter this by limiting the keyword difficulty of your keywords. Target all the keywords with low to medium difficulty. I suggest going for keywords under 25 keyword difficulty.
Long-tail keywords often have less traffic than normal keywords. But it’s easier to rank, so you should aim for them first.
After you have done this for a while, don’t hesitate to go for harder keywords. But remember, these keywords will take more time, so be patient.
Once you have a list of keywords for your site, you can add them to your URL, meta description (or meta tags), and the page header. We will discuss this more in the on-page optimization section.
4. Build out topic clusters
Topic clusters are an incredible way to organize your content and enhance your SEO strategy. Think of a topic cluster as an umbrella under which related subtopics fall. Your “pillar” content is at the core – a comprehensive piece that broadly covers the main theme. Subsequently, you have “cluster” content, which dives deeper into the specific aspects of the pillar topic.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine your main content is about healthy eating. Your cluster content could then delve into specifics like the benefits of a plant-based diet, balancing your macros, or why you need a high-protein diet. Each cluster piece links to the pillar content, forming a connected web.
Building out topic clusters helps your audience navigate your content easily and signals to search engines about the breadth and depth of content on your site. Once you covered every topic in the niche, Google has no choice but to rank your content since your website has reached the topical authority stage.
So, how do you create a topic cluster? There are two methods that I generally use.
1. Surfer SEO
If you know me, you know I’m a fan of Surfer SEO. Newbies Media uses this software for every piece of content. It has a great keyword research tool to build topic clusters. You can type your main keyword in the search box and hit Enter.
Surfer will go ahead and build all related topics for you. For example, here are the topic clusters for the keyword best running shoes.
There are several interesting topics you could target. For example, the best workout shoes cluster has roughly 77k organic traffic. It’s a great source of traffic.
Gradually building your content around these clusters will get you on top of Google in no time.
Many people never think of Google as a great keyword research tool. After all, you are writing to rank on Google. So Google must have something you want. I especially find the People Also Ask section interesting. You can type in the main keyword and get a list of relevant topics to write about.
Here’s what I got when I searched for the keyword best golf clubs.
You can write about “What are the golf clubs Tiger Wood uses?”, “What are the best golf irons to play?” and “What clubs does Phil Mickelson use?”. Covering these sub-topics can help you build topical authority fast and strive for your rankings on Google.
5. Define your most valuable pages
Your website needs several valuable web pages to do all the over-lifting for you. These pages are the pillars of your website, driving substantial traffic and contributing significantly to your site’s overall SEO value. They also generate the most revenue for your business.
For instance, an eCommerce site might find their most valuable pages to be their product or category pages. These pages drive the most traffic and have the highest conversion rates as they directly lead to sales.
As an example, consider an online clothing store. Their most valuable pages might showcase popular categories like the Women’s Summer Collection or high-demand products like Vintage Denim Jackets. Optimization of these pages should be a priority, ensuring they are easily accessible, user-friendly, and rich with relevant content.
On an affiliate site, the most valuable pages are often comprehensive product reviews or comparison posts. These pages convert reader interest into affiliate clicks and, eventually, sales.
For instance, a tech affiliate site might have a comprehensive review of the Top 10 Gaming Laptops of 2023, driving a large portion of their revenue. Optimizing this page with relevant keywords, detailed information, and easy-to-follow affiliate links can significantly boost its ranking and conversion potential.
6. Create a better piece of content compared to your competitors
Now, it’s time to create super high-quality content for your website. To stand out, you usually have two options. Either you make something different, or you create something much better.
For example, let’s say you try to target the keyword best task management software. The top posts review between 10-20 tools. How about you create a list of 50 tools? That will make you stand out from your competitors.
Another example is the keyword how to golf.
Most of the top-ranking pages are about learning golf as a beginner. How about you create a page, “How to practice golf: From a beginner to a pro in 6 months”. Do you see the difference? Who doesn’t want to be a pro fast? People are more likely to click on something that stands out.
7. Write about topics that people want to link to
Your content should be valuable enough that other site owners will want to link to it. To achieve this, consider creating content on relevant, unique, and currently trending subjects in your industry. Case studies and statistical posts are often good examples, as they provide others with a credible source of information.
For example, if your site is about gardening, you could write an article titled “A Case Study to Organic Gardening”. This could be a comprehensive experiment on what to plant, harvest, and tasks to perform in an organic garden. This content’s unique and practical nature makes it a likely candidate for other sites to link to as a valuable reference point.
Remember, quality is key. The more comprehensive, well-researched, and well-presented your content, the greater its chances of being linked to other sites. This improves your site’s visibility and enhances its reputation as a trusted authority in its niche.
8. Optimize your content for on-page SEO
This strategy is all about adding keywords to your content intelligently. I will focus on these three on-page SEO techniques. I use them daily on the Newbies Media blog.
For this step, you must add related keywords to your topic in your content. I usually use Surfer SEO to do this. Surfer will scan the top articles for your target keywords and extract all the keywords you need in your blog post, along with their frequencies. This prevents you from keyword-stuffing your blog post.
It also has a content score to compare your content with other competitors. Aim to get a score of 80 and above. The more optimized your content is, the better.
Check out our Surfer SEO review to learn more about this tool.
Internal linking still works very well. If you know how to do it right, you don’t need backlinks to rank on Google. In a case study on OnCrawl, the SEO god Koray Tugberk got a site from 0 to 330000 monthly visitors in 6 months without any new backlinks. All he used were internal links.
However, you have to do it right. You should link high-authority pages to new pages, and you need to link to pages that you want to rank. Because high-authority pages have more weight, they often receive more link juice from other websites, and Google trusts them more than your new page. Thus, a link from this page can significantly improve your new page.
Your URL is one of the Three Kings I discussed in the previous posts. It is one of the most on-page SEO elements to optimize.
How should you write a perfectly optimized URL? First, you need to include your keywords in the URL. For example, you are writing an article titled “7 Best Self-Development Books In 2023”. Your target keyword is best self-development books. Then your URL should be yourwebsite.com/best-self-development-books/. Simple.
Secondly, you should aim for short URLs. A study from Backlinko shows that short URLs tend to outperform long URLs. Therefore, including your target keyword in the URL should be enough.
9. Master the search intent
Search intent refers to understanding the user’s purpose or reason when they type a query into a search engine. In other words, search intent is what users want. If your content delivers what users want, Google would love to rank your content.
There are generally four types of search intent.
This intent reflects a desire to learn about a specific topic. Informational content usually contains key phrases like what, how, who, where, and why.
Some examples of informational queries are:
What is SEO?
How to build an online business.
How to make a website from scratch.
Blog posts often rank for these queries as people seek long-form educational content on their topic.
Here are some benefits of informational queries:
High-search volume: These keywords often have thousands of monthly visitors. If you rank for these keywords, you will see a huge boost in your organic traffic.
New leads: Informational queries often get new leads to your website that you can convert later.
Build trust with Google: Google trusts websites that provide value to readers. Informational posts fulfill that purpose very well.
This intent indicates the user wants to visit a particular site or page. For instance, if you search for Notion pricing, you want to know the pricing plans of Notion.
While ranking on these queries is good, the conversion rate is not great. Why? Because people are not looking for a third-party website, they want to go directly to the page.
This intent suggests the user wants to purchase something. Here are some keywords with transactional search intent:
buy iphone 14.
buy Jordan shoes.
buy AirPod Pro.
These keywords are money-makers because people are ready to buy when searching for these phrases. Try to rank for these keywords to help your website gain more leads and sales.
This intent means users are researching before making a purchase. This search intent lies between informational and transactional intent, as people are still looking for information but very close to action.
Some good examples of commercial search queries are:
best running shoes for men.
Nike vs. Adidas.
This search intent is great for affiliate websites, as people are just one step away from buying the products. Affiliate marketers can convince people to do it and earn a handsome commission.
To master search intent, you must align your content with the user’s needs. Your content should be rich in keywords and satisfy the user’s query. Tools like Answer The Public or Google’s People also Ask feature can help identify what users are searching for. Remember, content is king in the world of SEO, but understanding and satisfying search intent is the kingdom.
10. Fix all Technical SEO issues
Technical SEO involves everything related to how Google finds, crawls, and indexes your website. The easier search engines understand your page, the higher your chance to rank.
Here is the list of technical SEO issues you MUST pay attention to. If you can solve these problems, your website’s rankings will soar.
Site speed: Your website’s load time is a ranking factor in Google. The faster your content loads, the higher the chance it will rank. That makes perfect sense. Who wants to visit a slow site? People’s attention is short nowadays. Everyone wants their answers fast.
Duplicate content: Google doesn’t like duplicate content on your site. You should only cover each topic once in your article. If you cover the same topic on many pages, Google doesn’t know which page to rank for your search intent.
404 pages: Fix these pages as soon as possible. These pages can easily add up to 5-10 seconds of load time on your web page, which affects your site speed. It also creates an unpleasant user experience. Redirect it to a new page or delete it using Google Search Console.
11. Build links to your content
Backlinks are crucial for any website. They act as votes of confidence from other websites. These votes signal to search engines that your content is valuable and worth ranking.
However, not all links are created equal. You should aim for high-quality links from reputable and relevant websites.
Off-page SEO is a time-consuming process, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s how you can start.
Research your competitors
As mentioned above, you should research your competitor’s backlinks when doing competitive research. Type in your competitor’s name in an SEO tool like Ahrefs. Then click on Referring Domains. And extract all these domains. Look through them and pick around 100-200 sites relevant to your site for an outreach campaign.
This technique involves writing articles for other websites in your industry. In return, you usually get a link back to your site. It’s a win-win situation: they get free, quality content, and you get a link.
Guest posting helps me get two links from a high authority site: ranktracker.com (DR 70) and seoblog.com (DR 73).
Send them an outreach email to express your interest in contributing guest posts and see how they reply. The main goal is building relationships, so don’t be pushy.
Broken link building
This involves finding broken links on other websites, creating content that matches the content of the originally linked page, and then telling the website owner about their broken link and offering your content as a replacement.
Rewrite old content from another website
I learned this strategy from MattDiggity. It means you search for a piece of content that used to perform well on Google but has dropped ranking recently. You can offer them a new and well-researched piece of content in exchange for a link to your website.
For example, content like this would be a good candidate for this strategy. Let’s say you want a link for healthline.com. You can type in site:health.com intitle:2020. I found this article
This article used to perform very well, but its traffic has slipped over time. This is a great candidate for a rewriting pitch.
12. Design your content that fits your readers
When creating content, always keep your readers in your mind. You want your content to resonate with them, provide value, and be engaging. No one wants to look at a wall of text. Thus, making your content visually appealing is crucial.
There are various ways to achieve this, but I suggest focusing on four major components.
Graphs and charts
These can be powerful tools to convey complex information in an easily digestible format. They can help your readers to understand trends, comparisons, and statistical data at a glance. Remember to keep them simple and clear to avoid overwhelming your audience.
Infographics are an effective way to deliver a lot of information in a visually pleasing and streamlined manner. They can break down complex information into manageable, bite-sized pieces, making it easier for your audience to grasp and remember.
Infographics are suitable for tutorial content, as people can look at them for an overview of your content.
Screenshots can provide authenticity and clarity to your content. They show real-time information and can be especially helpful when explaining a process or showing the results of your case study.
You probably saw screenshots throughout all of Newbies Media’s articles. We try our best to provide you with the most authentic and trustworthy information so that you can get actual results.
Banners are decorators of your content. They can catch your reader’s eye and make them more likely to engage with your content. They also give readers an overview of what your content is about. For example, here’s the banner for our article about the best SEO tools for small businesses:
The banner is about SEO, and someone is writing software. People can understand this article is most likely about SEO and related tools.
13. Constantly update your content
You must keep your content updated to stay relevant and competitive in the SEO competition. Stale information disengages your readers and can impact your search engine ranking.
Search engines, especially Google, have a soft spot for fresh content. Its algorithm, Query Deserved Freshness (QDF), is designed to reward recently updated content with higher rankings, especially for hot topics or trending queries.
Therefore, constantly updating your content delivers value to your readers and boosts your visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs). So, keep your content fresh and accurate because Google, like your readers, loves the latest and greatest!
14. Analyze and refine your SEO strategy
In the digital marketing world, there’s no such thing as “set it and forget it”. SEO is an ongoing effort and requires consistent monitoring and adjusting. Once you’ve implemented your SEO strategy, you must analyze your results.
Use tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console to track your website’s performance. Look for patterns and trends in traffic, engagement, and conversions. Did a particular keyword drive a surge in visitors? Or maybe a blog post sparked a flurry of shares on social media? These insights can help you to understand what’s working and what’s not.
Perfecting your SEO strategy is not a one-time endeavor but a continuous process of refining and tweaking. Set a plan to revise your keywords, update your content, or even overhaul your website design based on your analysis. Because in SEO, flexibility is the key to staying ahead in the game!
15. Learn, learn, learn…
SEO is constantly changing, making continuous learning and adaptation essential for anyone who aims to stay exceptional.
While following the latest trends and algorithm changes are crucial, nothing can replace the importance of personal experimentation and consistent learning in SEO. Whether embracing new tools, experimenting with different techniques, or diving deep into analytics to understand user behavior, there’s always something to learn.
If you are new to SEO, invest in an SEO online course. This will save you a lot of time and effort and give you the confidence you need to execute your SEO strategies. Don’t flip-flop between different websites on the Internet for free information because cheap information doesn’t work.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the necessity of lifelong learning in SEO. Remember, knowledge gained through learning and practical application sets leaders apart in any field, and SEO is no different.
So keep learning, keep experimenting, and keep refining. Those who stop learning will soon be left behind in the SEO game.
In conclusion, I have given you everything you need to create an SEO strategy for your business. These tips can help you win the Google algorithms and stay on top of search results.
However, creating a solid SEO strategy is not a one-off task but a journey of continuous learning, experimentation, and refinement. The world of SEO is constantly changing, with search engine algorithms and user preferences continually evolving. Staying ahead in this game requires understanding fundamental SEO principles, a thirst for learning, and the ability to adapt quickly to changes.
Investing in learning resources, such as online courses, can provide a strong foundation for your SEO knowledge. However, true mastery comes through hands-on experimentation, where you try different techniques, build different websites, analyze the results, and refine your strategies based on your findings. There is no one-size-fits-all in SEO. What works for one website may not work for another.
Most importantly, SEO is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. There are a lot of factors that affect your SEO success. This journey can be long and sometimes challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort if you keep moving forward. So be prepared and get ready to conquer the world of SEO!