SEO has evolved over the past 10 years to become a complex maze of best practices and strategies.
Content, social media, link building, local listing, etc. all now contribute towards SEO, and it takes a considerable amount of knowledge, experience and time to smoothly run these activities.
If you are a small business with limited resources and not sure how to kick start your SEO campaign, we will solve the puzzle for you today.
Looking for SEO Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the best SEO Software solutions.
I was in a similar situation in my previous job, setting up the digital marketing function for an IT services company, that too on a shoestring budget. Given the strategic plan of the business, we decided to build an inbound marketing engine using SEO.
When we started, all that the company had was a 5-page website. Fast forward to today, the company has some deep content assets that generate a steady flow of inbound leads to feed the sales team, all thanks to the strategic investment that the company put towards SEO.
It’s tough to set up an SEO campaign, especially when you are new and don’t know where to start.
The purpose of this blog post is to help you with a strategy using which you can get started with SEO the right away.
First, Understand The Basic Rules of SEO
Before you kick start an SEO campaign, it’s important to understand that no one component/activity of SEO is more important than the other.
In SEO, everything works in parallel and contributes to the overall results, in different proportions, depending on your situation.
For e.g., a great backlink profile for a slow loading website won’t help much. Similarly, a fast loading website with poorly optimized low-quality content won’t help either.
In SEO, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. While it is critical to put in your SEO efforts across multiple directions, it’s important to keep moving ahead as a whole.
Let’s understand some basic rules of SEO before we deep dive into the specifics:
Content is the King
Quality content that solves a user problem is the base of SEO. There can’t be any compromise or a second opinion about this.
On-page SEO is the King Maker
Writing good content is not just enough. Right signals need to be sent to search crawlers to view your content in the right direction. There can be no better option to do that than on-page & on-site SEO (more about this in the upcoming paragraphs).
These 2 activities are directly under your control, so make sure you don’t ignore them.
Everything works in parallel
As we said above, one SEO component can become a reason to spoil all your efforts. So ensure you keep working on all aspects of SEO, spread across the 3 larger buckets as defined in the next section.
There are no instant results
SEO consists of hundreds of activities that combine together to yield big results. Needless to say, it takes time to build momentum. When it comes to SEO, there are no instant wins, only continuous efforts to keep moving towards the top.
SEO never ends
If you want to gain significant results from SEO, never stop improving. Analysis and optimization cycles are extremely important. Your magnitude of SEO efforts may vary but it should never be zero. Even 1% improvement each day will result in you becoming 3.5 times better within a year.
Key Components of Any SEO Campaign
Before we talk about specific activities to pursue, let’s understand the 3 major components of any SEO strategy:-
It refers to optimizing the technical aspects of your website so that search engine bots can access, crawl, index and rank your website with ease.
Also called as technical SEO, such optimization is done site-wide and is entirely focussed on improving the website infrastructure, both hard and soft.
As part of on-site SEO, parameters like page load speed, structuring server files, URL structure, structured data, breadcrumbs, sitemap, mobile-friendliness, etc. play an important role.
It refers to optimizing individual pages for content and HTML so that a web page is highly relevant to a user search query.
As the name suggests, such optimization happens at an individual page level and is largely related to how you write and structure website content.
The main objective of on-page SEO is to write relevant content for the end-user, at the same time help the search engines understand the context of your content so that I can be ranked.
Parameters like usage of focus keyword, LSI keywords, page title, H1-H6 tags, internal linking, image alt-text, etc. play an important part for on-page SEO.
All activities that you perform outside the boundary of your website with an intention to make your website more discoverable for an end-user, come under off-page SEO.
While link building can be considered as the most important component under off-page SEO, there are other activities as well like social media marketing, guest posting, directory listing, bookmarking, etc.
The primary objective of off-page SEO is to build the strength of your domain & page (referred to as domain authority & page authority respectively), thereby resulting in Google viewing your page/website as worthy of higher ranking.
The by-product includes acquiring additional traffic, resulting in more leads and sales.
How to build a winning SEO strategy in 2019?
If you are new to SEO, I can guarantee that you will get overwhelmed with the vast information available online.
Especially if you are a small business with limited resources, it becomes a challenge to pick the right ends to start with.
Below, I will give you my approach towards building an SEO campaign from scratch. The objective is not to overburden you again with another set of ‘to-do’ practices but to set the right architecture on which you can build your own building.
Here are our top 8 strategies to build a winning SEO campaign:
1. Identify the pillars of your SEO campaign
If you are targeting everyone, you will end up selling to no one – that’s a marketing no-brainer.
Define the niche you want to sell to, and list down their pain areas. The basis that, come out with a list of larger categories under which you will generate content.
For e.g. if you are offering digital marketing services to small businesses, you can generate content around SEO, Social Media Marketing, Google Ads etc. for small businesses.
2. Hunt for long tail keywords
If you are starting afresh, it is extremely difficult to rank for short tail keywords. Short tail keywords are search queries that are no longer than 2-3 words. E.g. SEO for small business.
Such keywords have an inherent problem: you don’t know the user intent behind such queries. Maybe, a person is looking for SEO agencies specializing towards small businesses, maybe he is looking for some SEO tips, or maybe some SEO tools for small businesses.
Your approach should then be to aim for long-form queries, also called as long tail keywords. These are elaborate queries like “How to approach SEO for a small business”. While such queries have lower search volume (because of their focussed nature), the search intent is very clear and you can create laser-focused and highly targeted content.
This will result in higher user engagement with your content.
You can use free tools like UberSuggest to do extensive keyword research.
3. Blog at least once a week
You need to keep feeding the Google crawler with new, high quality and SEO optimized content. The more you feed, the more often it will come back asking for even more. That’s when you start gaining ranks in SERPs.
While you can create only limited web pages for your services or products, blogging gives you the power to keep adding pages to your website and maintaining the freshness of your website.
Aim to blog actively, at least once a week. This will ensure the freshness quotient of your website.
4. Start building topical relevance
Generate content on topics that are closely related to each other. For e.g. we at OnPage Champ want to target digital marketers who actively perform SEO.
For that, ‘On-page SEO’ or “SEO” as a keyword is highly competitive and difficult to rank. In that case, we start by generating high-quality content focussing other closely related keywords/topics around SEO, like
- On-page SEO best practices
- On-page SEO caveats
- Free tools for On-Page SEO
- Difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO; and so on
Such a strategy ensures that sooner or later, Google will start seeing us as a website related to SEO (specifically on-page SEO) and that way we can start building our authority for this topic.
5. Spend some time regularly on technical SEO
Most of the people spend unconditionally high time on off-page SEO, while completely ignoring the on-page and on-site SEO.
Never make that mistake.
Since you have complete control of your website, ensure it’s sufficiently optimized for the search engines to discover and crawl.
6. Keep revisiting to optimize on-page elements
On-page and on-site SEO is a never-ending game. You can always improve the performance or add relevant content to build on top of the existing one.
Ensure you keep on doing that, even though in small proportions. OnPage Champ can help you keep a regular eye on your on-page SEO efforts, at the same time monitor the competitor best practices.
7. Invest time in building relationships (and links)
When you start a blog or a website and are still unknown, it gets tough to generate quality backlinks.
In such a situation; you should start building a relationship with people in your niche.
A major component of of-page SEO includes generating backlinks from other websites. To get something from others, you need to give first.
Identify the websites that can provide you with a backlink, and start engaging with their content through commenting, retweeting, social media sharing, writing personal emails etc.
Keep spending effort and wait for the right moment to pitch for guest blogging or backlinking opportunities.
9. Don’t spread yourself too thin
If you have just started with your SEO efforts, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a single day.
In SEO, there are multiple activities to do and it may get overwhelming for you if you start working on everything together. Instead, start with a few sets of activities and keep building upon them. More than the intensity, continuity defines your success.
Pick one activity at a time (e.g. blogging), get into a habit and then add the next activity to your list (e.g. directory listing).
The purpose of this blogpost is to provide you with a roadmap to build your SEO strategy.
Once again, let me iterate that SEO is not a single day game, it’s a marathon where patience and continuity of effort define your success.
In addition, it’s equally important to continuously analyze and monitor results and improve performance.
As a small business, you are always going to be crunched for resources and time. Take a strategic view of your SEO and keep investing in it, no matter how small. That’s the ultimate recipe of success for any SEO campaign.