SEO is essential for any business these days. If you want to get found online, one of the main ways in which your prospects will discover your products and services is through regular organic search results.
But even if you are aware of how important SEO is, how do you go about creating an effective ethical SEO strategy? Here is a guide to what you need to know to get everything in order. And the reason we make sure our food digital marketing clients have a great strategy
Why SEO is the Key to Brand Success
A brand is something much bigger than a business. It goes beyond the products you sell, the services you offer, or the staff responsible for your entire operation. Your brand is essentially a set of associations that gradually becomes embedded in the public awareness.
And that embedding process doesn’t happen by magic. For people to form opinions about your brand, they need to know about it, but also more than that — they need to be given reason to think about it. How can that happen? Well, someone can walk into a store, or follow a personal recommendation… but otherwise, it’s going to start with search.
If someone hears your brand name and wants to know what you do, they’ll use a search to find out. They’ll check sites for reviews and testimonials, find your locations, visit your website.
Along the way, they’ll compare you to other brands in your niche, whether consciously or not. Opinions about your brand are unlikely to be formed by search results, but they likely wouldn’t exist without them.
So why do you need an SEO strategy? Because all the old ways of getting your brand noticed have been eroded or outright destroyed by the internet, and the online world will make or break your reputation. How can you afford to ignore SEO?
You can’t, essentially — so let’s start looking at what a good SEO strategy involves, and get your marketing efforts moving in the right direction.
It All Starts with Keyword Research
Any good SEO strategy starts with keyword research. You want your pages to rank for relevant searches, and those searches will use keywords related to your products and services, so you need to use these keywords on your pages and in your content — but first you need to know what they are.
Keyword research is a huge topic. It’s also changed a lot in recent years, moving away from keyword stuffing completely. Start by reading a detailed guide to understand the basics, then spend time doing your own keyword research until you know which keywords you should be targeting.
Some tools you might want to try:
Optimize Your Web Pages for Your Main Keywords
Next, set up your web pages properly. You have your keywords now, so you want to use them in the right places. This includes your page titles, meta, images (alt text) and URLs to start with.
Don’t stuff them in anywhere — instead, use them sparingly. Make sure they always make sense when you use them in your page titles and meta descriptions. Always focus on the prospect – you want to get clicks when a prospect sees these in search, and this will improve your SEO in the long run.
Create an Internal Link Structure
Plan your internal links before you create your content. Many marketers focus all their efforts on getting backlinks, but you should start by ensuring your pages link to each other. This shows the search engines that your pages are connected, and it also provides a better experience for your visitors because they can find useful information without having to search for it.
Do this for your main pages, and make sure they all have one or two internal links on each. When you create blog posts, try to link back to your main pages or other blogs within the content. One or two links is fine, and only where they make sense.
Ensure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly
You need a mobile-friendly site if you want to rank in mobile search. This has been the case for a few years now. Google will not show your website in the mobile search results if it is not optimized for mobile visitors because this would not provide a good user experience.
Take a mobile-first approach and make sure your site is designed first for mobile visitors to boost your search presence. If your site is out-of-date, look into the costs of updating it, but consider that it might not be worth updating — you might need to start again with a more modern responsive theme.
Speed Up Your Website
Make sure your website loads quickly. A slow website is a frustrating experience for users. They won’t have the patience to wait around while your pages load, and they will bounce. You will lose potential leads, and suffer a lot of damage to your ranking potential.
Google uses page loading speed as a ranking factor. That means you need to speed up your site, and there are many ways to do this. Start by visiting Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to find out whether your site is fast enough and what you can do to speed it up.
Create Content Around Your Keywords
Once you’ve got your site in order, you need to start creating content. Content is the foundation of SEO, and it is the major way to improve your SEO over the months and years to come. There is only so much you can do with your actual website to optimize, and now you need to focus on generating social shares and getting backlinks.
Content is a major part of any SEO strategy for three main reasons:
- By creating more content, you have more keywords to rank for.
- It helps you to frequently update your website to keep it fresh.
- You can generate links to point back to your content.
The best way to publish content regularly is to publish a regular blog. That way you can consistently create topics that your target audience will find genuinely useful. Focus on providing value (long-form content tends to rank higher) and publish regularly.
Start Generating Backlinks
The standard backlink is still a big part of SEO. If you want to rank, you need links, and the best way to generate links is to regularly publish pieces of high-value content and promote them. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
Once you start publishing content, you need to get eyes on it. Share it on your social platforms as effectively as you can. Depending on the nature of your product, you may find that Instagram should be a priority, so build a suitable strategy — be sure to reach out to relevant influencers (this is known as influencer marketing). You can also use ads to generate direct traffic.
Content promotion is a big topic. Keep in mind that you should usually spend more time promoting the content than you do creating it. You can create amazing content, but only by promoting it will you get people to share it and link back to it.
There are other ways to get links, including getting your site listed in high-quality and relevant directories. So start getting links where you can — and don’t stop.
Get Your SEO Strategy Up and Running
These are the most important things you need to do to set up an SEO strategy for your business. Once you have set up your website properly and you are regularly building backlinks to your site, you’ll be in a good position to start ranking for your main keywords.
However, remember that SEO is an ongoing strategy. You cannot publish some content, get some links, and stop there. You need to constantly focus on getting more links and providing your customers with what they want.
Also, keep in mind that SEO is constantly changing, so keep up with the latest news and advice to ensure you are following all the best practices.
Written by Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.