According to Internet Live Stats, Google performs over 60,000 searches every second.
Clearly, a lot of traffic is being directed all over the world at any given time.
This is also evidence of the stiff competition on the interwebs.
That’s why you need a solid SEO strategy template to stand out from the crowd and get those coveted top spots in the search results.
Check out our list of the most important ranking factors you’ll need to include in your SEO plans.
Your SEO Strategy Template to Top Rankings
Google considers several hundred rankings factors for each search it performs.
Let’s not go down that rabbit hole. A lot of those factors involve unproven theories and guesswork.
Let’s stick to the most important rankings factors. For your SEO strategy template, include only the most proven rankings factors to improve your search engine results.
For years, search engines delivered results based on a hierarchal series of educated guesses.
Today, search engines are much more sophisticated.
Search engines now consider not only what keyword phrase you entered, but also what you might have meant when you typed it.
This is a semantic search, also referred to as a contextual search.
Semantic search includes the following
- User Intent: Two people searching for the same search term can now see completely different results. That’s because user intent is now factored into the search algorithm. Dozens of variables, such as location, search history, and even social media likes, influence the search results.
- Context: Search engines no longer consider just the keyword phrase you entered. They want to know the context of the search query. To figure this out, search engines use indicators such as synonyms and themes on a particular page or site. It also considers meta information like tags and rich-snippets in order to bring more relevant search results.
Key Takeaway: Think more holistically about keywords in your content creation and SEO plans.
- Use synonyms where appropriate in your content.
- Include contextually related terms in your meta tags and titles.
- Link to other related content on your site to give more context to your keywords.
Choose the Best Keywords
Search engines have changed the way they look at keywords. But their importance to SEO strategy and content development remains strong.
Effective SEO Keyword Strategy
1. Make a list of 10 topics. At this point, don’t think about specific keywords. Just create a list of topics your site covers well. These topics should be based on your core products, services, or content of your business.
2. Turn your topics into ten short keyword phrases using Google Keyword Planner. These short-tail keyword phrases, called “pillars,” are usually too competitive to rank for, so don’t create content just yet. We’re simply creating pillars, each of which will support a cluster of long-tail keywords.
3. Create long-tail clusters for your pillars. Use your favourite keyword tool to create 5-10 long-tail keywords for each pillar term on your list.
These clusters should be optimized to provide more detail for each about the original content keyword.
4. Create pages for each topic pillar and cluster keyword. Think of each topic page like a general overview of the subject. Organize your cluster keywords as subtopics on this page.
Then create individual pages for each cluster keyword and link to them from your topic page.
Key Takeaway: When it comes to keywords, no longer can you just come up with a keyword and create a post relating to it.
It’s better to think of topic clusters consisting of 5-10 highly targetted long-tail keywords.
On-Site SEO Optimization
Your SEO strategy template must include the optimization of your site as a whole, and also at the individual page level.
On-site SEO optimization involves focusing on these key areas:
- User experience (UX). Make sure your site is simple to use and easy to navigate. Test it to make sure readers find exactly what they’re looking for.
- Keyword research. It’s always important to put in place keywords used by your target audience.
- Descriptive URLs. Pretty straightforward here. Use short URL’s that help describe your target keywords for each site section and for individual pages.
- Page titles. Use keywords organically in your page titles, preferably closer to the beginning of your title.
- Meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are what is shown in the search results for your pages. So write them with the intention of creating curiosity and tempting searchers to click through to your page.
- Optimizing content. Use keywords organically and only where they make sense. In other words, no keyword stuffing. Make sure your content includes several keyword synonyms and variations.
- Encourage interactivity. Use calls-to-action and invite users to post comments, leave feedback, and share your content on their social platforms.
- Use structured data markup. Take advantage of extra search engine features to improve your click-through rates and traffic.
Key Takeaway: On-site SEO optimization is one of the easiest and quickest ways to improve your search engine traffic. Small improvements in this area can often lead to big wins in the SERPs.
A search engine’s reputation requires them to deliver relevant information from trusted sources. These sources are often referred to as authority sites.
How does a search engine know if you are an authority site?
There are many factors search engines look for, but here are the three most important ones:
1. Post regularly. At a minimum, you should post at least once a week. Create quality content your readers care about.
Old sites with no current content are usually ignored by search engines. It’s hard to be considered an authority if no one cares about you.
2. Social signals. Search engines now consider your social influence to help them determine if your site is trustworthy.
Are people commenting about you or sharing your content? Are you a part of the conversations on various social platforms?
Make sure you’re posting your content on all your social media platforms and engaging your followers.
3. Link-building. Search engines see another site’s link to you as an endorsement of your page.
In the world of SEO, there are always outliers. That said, sites with more quality links (i.e. links from closely related pages) rank higher in the search engines than those with fewer links.
Here are the three most common link-building practices.
- Create awesome content that goes viral. A viral post can generate hundreds of backlinks. To improve your odds of going viral, write about hot topics, and include infographics, study results, and data.
- Outreach. This is perhaps the most tedious and time-consuming link-building process. Contact other bloggers and ask for a link back to your site. Example: You find a post about the 7 Best Protein Shake Recipes. You contact the blog and point them to a great protein shake recipe article on your site. You ask them to consider updating their list to include the 8 Best Protein Shake Recipes and include your recipe (with a link of course).
- Guest Blog. Many sites accept guest posts from other writers. Most times you’ll write a free article for a site in your niche. In return, you’ll receive a link to your website, either in the byline or within the post itself.
Key Takeaway: Be creative to get the best types of backlinks to your site.
Improving your SEO starts with an audit of your current progress. You need to measure your existing progress and identify areas of opportunity.
We’ll help you create your SEO strategy template to achieve your content marketing goals.