A strong SEO strategy is rarely one size fits all.
With so many avenues, metrics, and priorities to choose from, finding a strategy that works for your business means a considered approach.
So, where do you start?
In our virtual workshop, ‘Investing in SEO - Finding the Best Strategy for You’, our panel of experts shared their guidance for mapping, evaluating, and investing in an SEO strategy that suits your requirements.
In this article:
- Before you start - SEO goals, resource, and exploring the options
- Investing in SEO - 6 pieces of advice from the experts
- Match your metrics to your needs
- Don’t sleep on your Technical SEO
- Match your SEO content to the sources of the traffic
- Leverage your SEO content across your strategy
- Balance changes with consistency to avoid SEO deterioration
- Use KPIs and sense-checking to stay on track
- Final questions before you invest
To join an upcoming event, take a look here.
Before you start - SEO Strategy Goals, Resource, and Exploring your options
A strong SEO strategy rarely has a one-size-fits-all solution - so, before you start updating your strategy, it’s crucial to lay out clear objectives, understand your resource, and evaluate where you stand.
Defining your Goals for SEO
As Alex Whyles, Head of SEO at Visualsoft shares, SEO objectives shouldn’t be stand-alone goals - rather, a ‘how’ for achieving your broader goals.
“Whether it's SEO, PPC, or something else, look at your top-level business objectives.
Try to figure out as much of the What and the Why as possible. From there, you can use SEO as the How, and actually then start building out your strategy from that point.
There's a lot of times where I do see that people will say, “I just want rankings and traffic, more conversions and revenue, and maybe a pony” - which is kind of a given - but it’s how you actually go about getting where you want to be that matters.”
There are almost unlimited metrics to track when assessing your SEO - so remember to personalise this to your own strategy.
Assessing your SEO resource to determine what’s achievable
Your strategy should have a clear understanding of what you currently have available to work with, so that you can start to evaluate the step change that might be required to progress or see a stronger return.
You can also begin to benchmark what might be a best practise expectation given the level of time and resource you’re already putting into the SEO work.
Exploring the Options for your SEO strategy
Depending on your resource and objectives, the avenues that you might want to prioritise will differ.
Beyond on-page SEO and organic content, there are plenty of other areas potentially impacting your performance to be aware of that may require a specific investment to resolve.
These include - but aren’t limited to:
- Existing content optimisation
- Image optimisation
- Technical SEO tooling like GA and Webmaster
- Website UX
- Structured data testing
- Site Security
- Keyword Research & Analysis
- Backlink building
Determining what’s currently impacting you most might require external specialists to review with a dedicated SEO audit, though what this entails may differ based on your needs.
To find out about different options based on your budget or requirements, get in touch with the GO! team here for a quick chat.
Investing in SEO - 6 pieces of advice from the experts
So, you’ve got an overall idea of where your strategy sits. What’s next?
Here are 6 key takeaways from our experts to help properly maximise your SEO efforts.
#1 Match your SEO metrics to your needs
With a wealth of metrics to choose from, it’s absolutely crucial that your SEO KPIs are clearly linked to both your audiences and your business.
SEO metrics that match your audience
As Ryan Ogilvie, Head of SEO at Evolved Search shares, your approach to SEO needs to reflect what your audience is actually looking for.
“As we know in the past, the first thought has been, ‘We want to rank number one for this keyword.’
Okay - but who's searching for that query? Is your audience searching for that? Or are you just going after that keyword because it's got high search volume and it's going to bring you some traffic?
Audiences are arguably the most important part of not just SEO strategy, but marketing strategy - so tailoring your goals to what they’re looking for should always be the focus.
Choosing KPIs that align to your business - not the ‘best-practise’
Hannah Thorpe, Managing Director at Verkeer, stresses a similar importance when it comes to how to compare your performance.
“We get a lot of clients that come to us that say, ‘We want to match what Google says is the industry benchmark’, but it’s not always a helpful target for your business.
Example - If you had a medical concern, and you were looking for support, it might be better that you spend a minute on a website - not the industry benchmark for healthcare services of three and a half minutes - because it shows that you’ve found the answer in a concise way.
Instead of these benchmarks, we’ll track things like ‘time well spent’.
It also depends on what your stakeholders want.
If you're in eCommerce, odds are you might try and target awareness and think you're doing all this big brand building stuff. but I'm pretty sure your boss is going to be there checking your conversion rate and your revenue, and be frustrated if you're not hitting it.
If you’re in another sector like B2B, for example, you might have a bit more freedom to look at broader goals like:
- Time Well Spent
- Scroll Depth
Get an idea of what a ‘good visit’ looks like for you, and target against that”.
Find your ‘ocean’ to shape your SEO objectives
Hannah also shares the idea of a ‘red ocean’ vs. ‘blue ocean’ when it comes to your strategy.
“When we build a strategy, we split your market into what we call ‘red’ or ‘blue’ ocean.
The short version is, being in a red ocean means it's highly competitive - like-for-like products, price sensitive, aggressive competition, but, you have a known market.
In a blue ocean, there's no competitors - but typically, you have to educate people, and that takes time.
If you don't have resource, or you're looking for an immediate ROI, or you don't have six months to plan something, focus on your red ocean and go for where the demand is, and take a little slice.
If you want to dominate your market, and you've got the time and you really want to build an amazing brand, you need to go blue ocean, and move everyone to want to shop in your ocean where there's no competitors.”
#2 Don’t sleep on your Technical SEO
In teams where SEO is primarily the responsibility of a content team or creative group, Technical SEO can often be overlooked - but the potential impact of poorly developed Technical SEO for your strategy isn’t something to be ignored.
James Maxfield, Technical SEO Manager at Dark Horse, shares a few examples that demonstrate how Technical SEO could be impacting your results.
“Some technical SEO issues, we see all the time. You might have a subdomain, or you might have two versions of the site that you didn't know about, or you might have done a migration from.com to.co.uk and not done that properly.
There are so many changes that you might have made in the past, that have a big knock on effect - you can spend months trying to get that visibility back.”
Solving Technical SEO issues
By it’s nature, Technical SEO isn’t always something your in-house team will be able to manage alone - this is where James recommends connecting to an external specialist.
“You might need to get a deeper understanding of the website's performance, the current situation and the technical health.
How would you fare against competition? Where are the weak points? What is the current setup or situation? Technical specialists can help with that.”
#3 Align your SEO content to your acquisition channels
Conversely, it’s also important to remember that SEO does not exist in a vacuum. The journeys that your audience take to get to your content need to be considered to create top-performing SEO content.
Seeta Wrightson, Director at RICH Search Marketing - part of The Lucre Group - explains how to ‘keep house’ effectively with your SEO work below.
“SEO and SEO strategy, they’re the fundamentals - it’s where everything else is leading people to.
So, it's really important to think about how that website will factor into your audience's journey.
Is it something that they're going to discover through search?
If so, are they set up to do initial research, or are they ready to commit to a transaction?
If it's somebody that's coming through social because they've discovered an amazing piece of insight that you've got, is it linking to something on-site that doesn't feel like a hard sell?
Understanding what types of journeys they might be taking will then help you to see what kind of SEO strategy needs to be put into place - and it’s not just using google.”
#4 Leverage your SEO content across your strategy
SEO is rarely a short-term game - however, even with dedicated investment in SEO work, marketing teams sometimes end up with a disconnect between their SEO content and their wider marketing strategy.
Seeta shares examples of how you can make the most of the resource and investment you are putting into your SEO strategy across the rest of your marketing plan.
“There's all sorts of different things that you can do to really maximise what you do with that content.
Say you've got an article on the website, and it's a piece of thought leadership, or a white paper, but it's optimised enough to start bringing in really relevant traffic.
There’s data there that you can turn into an infographic, which will go out on your social channels. If you’re clever about it, you can make it work for all your other channels.”
Alongside this, Hannah shares how to take advantage of offline channels with your SEO work.
“Something that a lot of clients miss out on is using the resources they build for SEO across other parts of your business.
SEO can take ages, so if you've created amazing content assets that are good for your audience, why not give them to your sales team?
Repurposing this content, you can actually start to get performance metrics too - if sales are sharing it to prospects, you can measure that, and actually start to benchmark how an engaged audience behaved with your content.
#5 Balance any wider changes to your website to avoid SEO deterioration
After a site audit, or even changes to your wider messaging/brand identity, it’s tempting to overhaul your entire digital presence.
However, Alex warns of the risks of making wholesale changes, and instead suggests ‘balancing’ those updates against the potential damaging impact of website-wide updates for your SEO.
“I'd hazard maybe a theory that this is potentially what might happen in the next coming months. Due to the economic climate, some businesses will get a bit of an itch when it comes to SEO - they’re not where they want to be, so let's go and change something quickly.
What we've seen is that this just creates chaos.
Consistency is a very key word for SEO - without consistency, out goes the strategy.
Sometimes, if you’ve gone through major changes to your site, the best advice might be, ‘just do not touch it for the next three or four months, leave it alone.’
Sometimes you can do a lot more harm by changing things all the time than good.”
#6 Managing your SEO strategy as a non-expert - advice for leadership
Finally, Ryan offers his advice for marketing team leaders who may not have a wealth of SEO knowledge as it stands.
“Get someone to sense check your early thinking - not everyone has huge budgets to spend on external help, but SEO is constantly changing, and the winners are the people that are embracing that change, fulfilling those needs, and can react quickly.
So, at the very least, get someone to sense check your strategy and point you in the right direction.”
When it comes to the technical side for non-experts, Hannah recommends finding ways to monitor this.
“I'd recommend always paying for a tool to monitor your technical, just to let you know when you need intervention from a technical SEO expert.
I always recommend Little Warden, which just monitors if any changes are made in your site. So if someone in a different team decides to no index your website, at least you'll get an alert immediately!”
Final questions to ask yourself for your SEO strategy
Before going further with a particular plan of action, remember to ensure you’re answering the below questions, and shaping your requirements from them:
- What’s your current ‘objective’ with your SEO strategy?
- How will you measure your SEO performance going forward?
- What’s your current capacity and skill level?
- Where could your SEO strategy benefit from additional support?
- How long will you need that support for?
- How does your SEO strategy bake into your broader marketing goals?
Feeling good about your plan? Get our interactive workbook, The Ultimate Guide to the Digital Brief, to lay out your strategy for yourself.