An SEO strategy helps brands position themselves within the digital ecosystem. A strong SEO strategy will use data, technical SEO, and user intent to create content that answers the user’s needs and is easily found by prospective visitors.
Considering that 81% of customers and 94% of B2B buyers report using the internet when investigating a potential purchase, brands clearly understand the value of a strong online presence. Your SEO strategy should make up the cornerstone of this online presence. With 51% of the traffic arriving on your website coming from organic clicks, and about 60% of clicks going to sites in the top 3 spaces, the position and visibility of your site on the SERPs will have a dramatic impact on your ability to draw in new customers.
Over the past decade, SEO and digital marketing have become increasingly competitive. The amount of data in the digital ecosystem is projected to increase from 130 exabytes in 2015 to 40,000 in 2020. Content created by brands, and consumers themselves, has driven much of this data growth. The content creation process and output intensifies each passing year. A full 88% of B2B marketers now report that they use content marketing to drive their brands.
This exponentially increasing content competition means that brands need a clear SEO strategy to guide their campaigns and accurately measure the results.
The right strategy will be tailored to the unique needs of the business, maximizing resources and driving success.
The modern SEO strategy
As the digital ecosystem becomes more crowded, and therefore more competitive, the world of SEO has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. High rankings and strong positions can no longer be driven by guesswork and instincts. Instead, marketers generate these results through careful measurement and intentional actions. The modern SEO strategy must be data-driven and carefully planned and executed.
In a successful SEO strategy, organizations must have an intimate understanding of precisely who the campaign targets. They must know the pain points of their audience. Through keyword research, they can also uncover the topics and interests of their audience, enhancing their ability to create content that people want to read. The marketers working for these companies must also accurately target the user intent of their prospective visitors when they make particular queries, allowing them to create content that is highly relevant for the target audience.
It is important to also consider the different aspects of SEO. Brands that have a brick-and-mortar location will want to focus heavily on hyperlocal search, building out their Google My Business page and creating content around terms and topics targeted for those in their specific geographical area. On the other hand, organizations with an international audience should focus on a global strategy. This would include carefully constructing websites in the different languages to target these customers, working with speakers of the local language to ensure that everything is properly optimized for the local search engines, and using hreflang tags to make the target language and country clear..
Understanding user intent for SEO strategy
User intent has taken center stage for successful SEO strategies. Google has been pushing websites towards the idea of the micro-moment for several years now, encouraging developers to think about which of the four micro-moments fits their target audience best:
- The I-want-to-go moment
- The I-want-to-know moment
- The I-want-to-do moment
- The I-want-to-buy moment
The search engine giant has also been continually looking for ways to improve its SERP to better address the intent of the user. Depending upon the anticipated needs of the clients, certain SERPs will feature different types of content and displays, such as local 3-pack listings, Quick Answers, videos, images, or PPC ads.
To this push towards the improved understanding of user intent and creating a better user experience, brands must also consider the changes in how users interact with the internet. We have already seen the rise, and now dominance, of mobile usage. Voice search has followed behind at an impressive rate, with about 20% of mobile and android queries being performed through voice and 60% of voice search users reporting that they only started using the technology in the past twelve months.
These shifts in usage mean that brands must have the understanding of their users’ browsing habits to respond appropriately. Mobile devices change the content display. Smaller screens limit the initial number of results seen. On a variety of voice-controlled devices, such as the increasingly popular personal assistants, results and answers do not come visually, and often the devices only provide one or two possibilities for responses. In other words, brands that rank number three for those particular queries will not be visible at all.
An SEO strategy must take these changes in usage into account to help the brand better understand how to optimize their content, where to focus their efforts, and the types of content that will hold the user’s interest. For example, this might mean optimizing for Quick Answers on the queries where users will likely want fast, scannable results. It might also include developing Q&A or FAQ pages to address users on voice search. On local search, brands need to pay particularly close attention to mobile, and thus they will need to consider what they put in their PPC ads and how it mirrors what Google displays in the local 3-pack.
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As brands better understand user intent, they will be able to use a variety of different types of content in their SEO strategy, including images, videos, infographics, and standard text content. The information can then be promoted to the right customers at the right moment.
Bringing in the technical side of an SEO strategy
In addition to properly aligning content with the targeted audience, brands can also not neglect the technical aspects of a SEO strategy. The goal of SEO is to help the right audience discover the content. In order to accomplish this, marketers must also consider their site construction, navigation, and markup.
Interlink site pages with other relevant content so that visitors who display interest in particular topics can then move on to other material that will also engage them. This will encourage visitors to move down the sales funnel.
It is also important to create a site taxonomy that allows visitors to reach their destination in as few clicks as possible. A shallow site taxonomy that organizes pages by topic, but keeps content no more than three clicks from the home page, is the ideal setup.
Sites that have an international audience should check their usage of hreflang tags. These tags ensure that Google properly matches the right version of the site with the right language and country. Without hreflang tags, sites can easily be mixed up in search results. Different countries, even if they speak the same language, will have their own slang and local information. For example, the Spanish-language version of the site intended for Spain versus the Spanish version intended for Mexico. Mixing up sites this way because of incorrect or blank hreflang tags can damage brand reputation. This disrupts the user experience and weakens the connection between the visitor and the brand.
Once sites have completed the optimization process with the rest of their site, they should also consider the role of schema markup in their site optimization. Schema provides search engines with additional information about the website, ensuring that the content is properly understood and listed where applicable. It can also help brands obtain rich answers on the Google SERP, such as placements in the Google Events feature or earning Quick Answers.
Your SEO strategy will help drive your organization and your content forward by making your material discoverable by the search engines and the visitors themselves. Developing an SEO strategy, however, requires careful forethought and planning. You must understand the pain points and interests of your target audience while creating content that both aligns with user intent and incorporates the latest best practices in technical SEO. Brands that master this balance find themselves rewarded with a strong, profitable marketing strategy.