Introduction to SEO
SEO is a popular buzzword for all business owners that sounds tech-savvy and extremely sophisticated for those gearing up to launch their digital marketing strategy.
Simply put, good SEO gives your business greater online visibility.
This means more people have a higher likelihood of finding or discovering your website online subsequently giving you more website traffic, viewers, leads, and eventually sales!
How does this happen?
If prospective customers search for a topic relevant to your business e.g a product you sell or a service you provide, you’d definitely want to be the first option they see.
Remember, if you’re not one of the first few businesses customers consider, your competitors definitely are.
SEO: It’s all about visibility, traffic & conversions!
This is why SEO is so important, it gives you greater reach in getting in touch with customers via queries they may have, and ultimately, lead them to your products and services that solve their problems.
On top of visibility and a direct impact on sales, SEO contributes to your market voice, establishing you as an authority. This makes it easier for customers to trust your brand and become loyal, even evangelists of your brand!
But what exactly is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process of ensuring your site grows more visible online when people search for your website via search engines.
You’re optimising your website for search engines by adjusting site content – hence the term SEO – so you can bring in more leads and sales organically (that is at a lower cost)!
This is great because if people are able to easily find your business through search engines, there’s huge potential for plenty of inbound traffic to your business website.
So how do search engines work?
Search engines crawl the internet, indexing websites to inform their algorithms that work behind the scenes.
How Google Search Works (in 5 minutes)
These algorithms in turn use the website info that they’ve indexed to return relevant results to users that enter a query.
For example, if I searched ‘buy basketball shoes’ on Google, Google would return all results that it thinks would be most relevant to my search query.
Naturally, paid ads would almost always appear at the top – but we all know that unless we have high intent to purchase something immediately, we would do a little bit of research first.
Don’t be fooled by this number, however – there are a vast number of reasons people could be searching for something – and not all of them may be with purchase intent.
This simply means that optimising your website for a paid media campaign would require a vastly different strategy compared to SEO (but we’ll cover that in a different guide)
In this article, we’ll be covering the basics of a strong foundational SEO campaign for small businesses – so you can build your online visibility and start attracting more leads and sales!
Besides the attractive idea of getting free leads and sales through organic traffic, there are a couple of great reasons why you should make it part of your digital marketing strategy.
Google processes approximately 70,000 search queries every second
Naturally, this means there’s a massive oasis of customers ready to be reached.
Almost ⅓ of consumers search for local businesses on a daily basis
Whether you’re a local business or a larger SMB, these statistics show a huge number of consumers may be actively searching for your business
95.88% of Google searches are four words or more.
With almost 96% of searches being four words more means people are extremely specific in their search – making it easier for you to reach them if you’re hitting the right keywords in their search query.
70% of marketers consider SEO better than PPC for sales; citing better click-through rates, more time spent on-page, and higher likelihood to convert
SEO Basics: What is SEO and Why is it Important? [SEO Course by Ahrefs]
Typically SEO campaigns help hit multiple key performance indicators (KPIs), including increasing traffic, helping your site rank for relevant keywords, and improving your conversion rate while being extremely cost-effective.
What is an SEO Campaign?
An SEO campaign is a set of predefined steps to follow to improve the rankings of a website in the search results for specific keywords.
SEO campaigns are usually a long-term strategy with many moving parts, including keyword research, content audits, website analysis, on-page optimization, link building, and many other considerations.
The goal of every SEO campaign is to improve search engine rankings.
SEO campaigns aren’t concerned with just the campaign itself but also the steps taken before and after a campaign is completed.
The difference between a dedicated SEO campaign and an ongoing SEO process is that a campaign has specific measurable goals while the objective of ongoing SEO is to improve the SEO performance of a website in general.
As we dive into how you can launch your very first SEO campaign, one of the steps we’ll be covering is how to set proper SEO-oriented goals and work towards them.
Analyse your website setup
Perform an SEO Audit
Set your Campaign Goals
Perform Topic & Keyword Research
Craft your Page Title
Publish Great Content
Work on On-Page SEO
Promote your Content
Monitor your SEO performance
Build Topic Relevancy
1. Analyse your website setup
Before launching an SEO campaign, you should review your website to eliminate any glaring problems that might negatively impact your SEO campaigns.
For example, if your website is not mobile-optimised, Google might be penalising your website for poor user engagement, resulting in lower campaign performance.
In general, before starting an SEO campaign, you need to ensure that:
Has SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) enabled to help Google identify your site as safe and secure
These are basic things you should be looking out for before you proceed to the next step.
2. Perform a Technical SEO Audit
The next step is to review your website’s SEO healthiness by performing a technical SEO audit.
What is Technical SEO and Why is it Important? – 4.1. SEO Course by Ahrefs
This is a slight extension from Step 1. Anything to do with ‘Technical SEO’ has to do with the development of your website.
Download our checklist to get a more comprehensive view of how to do so.
It’s important to optimise technical SEO so search engines can more easily index your website and identify your pages as relevant to search queries.
As part of the audit process, you need to review your technical SEO infrastructure and in particular the following items:
- Ensure all URLs are SEO friendly (Meaning they contain keywords relevant to the content of that page)
- Your website should be easily navigable, with a clear hierarchy in pages – not a flat structure where users struggle to find content.
– Home Page
– Product Category
– Specific Product
- Define canonical URLs for f pages that are identical and can be grouped together
- Avoid indexing errors by ensuring your txt settings are accurately set to help search engines crawl your website properly
- Ensure that your XML sitemap is clearly defined for search engines
3. Set your Campaign Goals
Think of an SEO campaign as the critical component of your overall SEO process.
This means you’ll have to set specific goals and targets, right from the beginning
An example might be ranking for a specific long-tail keyword using a set of tactics such as posting relevant content on your social media or developing a set of paid media assets around a set of keywords.
Before you start a campaign, you should specify exactly what you want to achieve. Some valid use cases are:
To increase visibility on Google for keywords that you aren’t ranking for
To improve the rankings of existing pages, for specific keywords
If you wanted to rank highly for “best bicycles for kids” you might do the following:
Write a comparison piece between popular bike models
Substantiate it with a comprehensive guide on picking a bicycle for children
Once the post is published, link to it internally from pages on your site that Google has already indexed so search engines can find this new content faster
Promote the posts on social media (to help boost authority and recognition on the subject)
Publish new posts related to your first “picking a kids bike” guide and link to it
This list isn’t comprehensive, but fundamentally you want to ensure that you are continually writing and integrating new, relevant content into your website.
As mentioned earlier, every campaign is but a component of a larger strategy.
Like any other business goal, you can follow the S.M.A.R.T method to set your SEO goals:
E.g I want our Model X bike to become more visible through online searches (specific), and increase conversions by 10% each month (measurable), because we’re we’ve seen 8% growth in recent months, (achievable), for our new e-commerce campaign (relevant), within 3 months (time-bound).
And then you would go ahead to set SEO goals based on this higher-level goal
For example, if the Model X bike is particularly aerodynamic, you might set an SEO goal as “Rank #1 on Google for the keywords ‘most aerodynamic bike 2022”.
4. Perform Topic & Keyword Research
Once your high-level goals are set, it’s time to make them more specific and the first actionable step is to perform a topic and keyword research.
But hold on – How are topics and keywords different?
A topic could be a set of related search terms like “bicycle riding”
Whereas your keywords would be more specific like “bicycle lights, bicycle tires, cycling jerseys” etc.
Topic research will set your keyword research and subsequently SEO campaign up for success.
Reason being is you can be as comprehensive as you need to be, and start branching out to the keywords that are most valuable to your business.
Consider things such as:
The total search volume for all keywords that make up a topic
Type of content that appears on the top of Google
Knowing this information in advance will help you design your SEO campaign to go after keywords that are realistic to target and not waste your time on keywords you cannot achieve high rankings.
Now you can start performing keyword research.
Keyword Research Tutorial: From Start to Finish
5. Craft your Page Title
Now that you’ve gotten your topics and keywords, it’s time to start crafting content for your SEO campaign.
For every piece of content you publish, you’ll want to carefully consider the page title.
The page title is the most important SEO element and besides being SEO friendly, it has to be relevant enough for users to click on and start digesting your content.
A great way to come up with page titles is to simply check on Google!
Search the keywords you’re targeting, and check what’s already being ranked. Now, you want to craft a title that contains your keywords but isn’t a duplicate of your findings.
To make your title stand out more to users, use eye-catching texts like numbers or adjectives like “Popular”, “How to”, “Simple” or “Comprehensive”.
6. Write and Publish
Next, you have to actually write the content, taking into consideration what’s already out there.
You won’t rank if you’re not providing content that’s more valuable than what’s already out there. The next step is to write the content for your post, taking into account the following:
Ensure you provide MORE value than what’s out there. Do more research, make sure you’re as updated as you can, and provide more resources to be more valuable to users.
Make it easier to navigate – include charts, tables, bullets, and pictures so users have a great experience.
Write in a way that’s engaging to your target audience – not everyone may appreciate witty writing or serious business tones.
Always think to yourself “What’s the first thing I’d like to see when I search this term?” And write for that.
Here are 3 types of posts you should be applying in your SEO strategy:
How to Create an Effective Topic Cluster and Pillar Page
A pillar post is typically 3,000 words or more – usually a detailed guide or article on a broad topic with typically competitive keywords.
Being extremely comprehensive has its pros and cons – more useful content tends to rank higher on Google – and longer does not always mean better.
On the other hand, when written correctly, pillar posts can hit a number of different keywords, possibly ranking you higher for more than one search term.
A staple post, while less in-depth than a pillar post, is still detailed enough to be relevant to users that may be searching for a moderately competitive keyword – typically 1,500 words or more.
Remember – while you’re publishing content, your competitors are doing the same.
This is where many SEO battles are fought – listicles, how-to guides, comparison posts all fall under staple posts.
Response posts are extremely targeted and are usually used to rank for very specific keywords or to answer a very specific query.
Usually 1,000 words or less, response posts are a vital part of any SEO strategy to really cover all your keyword bases.
When crafting content, there are a few key things to remember.
Be transparent. Don’t conceal important information that your users need to know. If it’s sponsored posts or links that you are promoting are affiliate links that could earn you revenue, be clear about this.
Be clear as to who the author is. If users have queries about the content they should be able to contact someone.
Be sure to substantiate your claims! Real data and useful content should support the content that you put out.
As long as you’re putting out useful, attractive content, Google will reward such pages in their rankings.
This is where you can consider the acronym E.A.T to inform your SEO campaign strategies:
- Expertise means making sure you walk the talk in your content! Stay updated in your field so you can produce relevant content for your target audience.
- Authoritativeness means ensuring you’re being recognized by users or other authorities as a reliable source.
- Trustworthiness means your website is consistently being returned to and doesn’t harm user experience (still remember Why SEO is important that we mention at the start?)
7. Work on Your On-Page SEO
Now that you’re done writing, there’s one more step before you actually publish!
And that is making sure your content on-page SEO is done.
A big part of how search engines understand your content may be user-friendly and useful is by looking at specific parts of your webpage.
These parts of your webpage include:
URL and slugs
H1, H2, H3 tags
Your entire body copy
Images and their alt text
By ensuring your keywords are present in the above elements, you make it easier for search engines to index and correlate your content to search terms and queries.
8. Promote your Content (Internally and Externally)
An SEO campaign needs any help it can get, this includes promotion of content.
There are two ways to effectively do this:
Promote your content internally (also known as internal linking).
Promote your content externally (also known as off-page SEO).
After you publish a post, comb through your existing content and start linking to your new post. Be sure to optimise the anchor text of your internal links to match the keywords you want to rank for.
For example, if you published a piece about ‘picking the best kids bicycle’, link to it from similar posts.
By adding internal links from existing posts, you help search engines discover your new pages while adding new posts to their search index – boosting visibility of both posts!
This is referred to as link building which is the process of receiving backlinks from other websites. Quality backlinks serve as a certificate that a website trusts you enough to link to your content, and generally helps build rankings on Google.
By identifying how your content would be useful, reach out to bloggers or other industry authorities and see how your content might be useful to them!
Don’t forget that besides link building, there are other ways to promote your content like running paid media campaigns, promoting to your existing customers, and working with influencers.
9. Monitor your content
Having kicked off your SEO campaign, now it’s time to monitor its progress.
While you may be excited to see your page ranking, it’s important to remember that it typically takes 3-6 months for an SEO campaign to start showing results.
Metrics to look out for include the following:
Ranking position in Google
Number of visits
Number of backlinks
Number of social shares
Number of comments
You can get this information from your Google Analytics SEO reports or by a tool like SEMRUSH.
Don’t waste time waiting, however – start planning and launching other SEO campaigns in the meantime.
IMPORTANT: In order to ensure your content is properly indexed and receives a final ranking from Google, it’s vital you do not edit or republish content too frequently. After a period of a few months, you can then decide how to modify the content.
10. Build topic relevancy
The final step of your campaign is to decide whether you need to publish more related content to build relevancy.
While Google ranks pages individually it does take into account the website content it is published on.
Websites that are considered as authoritative for a particular topic are likely to rank easier to topic-related keywords.
So how is this related to your SEO campaign?
If you’re looking to rank for specific keywords – you’ll need more content for those keywords to increase your visibility.
Another thing to consider is if the keywords are just not useful to your campaign, you may want to start creating content for other keywords and concentrating your efforts elsewhere.
Of course, just because you haven’t ranked yet doesn’t mean you should just give up on those keywords – keep publishing content and review your goals. Competitive keywords will take longer to rank, and requires you to put out more content.
On the other hand, more specific keywords may not necessarily need the same effort, but may not bring in as much traffic, leads or sales.
Summary of SEO Campaign
Stay updated on your topic and keyword research: Identify both primary and secondary keywords with specific pages.
Goal setting: Make sure your overall SEO strategy and individual campaigns have clear goals.
High-quality content: Create content that is relevant and useful to your audience to help your posts rank for the keywords you want them to.
Technical SEO: Make sure your website clears this checklist first and perform regular checks
On-page SEO: Use elements on your post such as title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, and body content to include your targeted keywords
Link building: Try and gain quality backlinks from reputable sites to boost your rankings.
Social media engagement: Become visible as an authority by regularly sharing content through social media and engaging people.
Ready to start launching your SEO strategy?
If you still need help formulating and executing a proper SEO strategy, EpicNgage Media is offering a FREE 30 minutes consultation for you to get started!