Nowadays the optimization of any web resource cannot be done without the main component of the promotion process — an SEO strategy. There are many definitions of this term because the strategy itself does not have clear rules, and its components vary depending on what needs to be promoted. Some sources identify concepts of strategy and tactics in the field of search engine promotion that can often mislead a potential client. In this article, we’ll take a more detailed look at what the strategy in SEO is, what stages of developing a promotion strategy there are, and what resources are needed. The SEO strategy can be described as a plan for the development and achievement of promotion goals which consists of many elements. Such strategies do not have any certain names and definitions because, for each resource, strategies are selected in accordance with the type of website that needs improvement.
What is the SEO strategy for?
SEO is a technology for website promotion in search results in order to get greater traffic. The basis of the work is the knowledge of ranking algorithms for resources in the issuance and improvement of website content in order to bring it to the top of search results for the required key phrases.
As a result of high-quality SEO, the site rises in search engine results. That means that the link to the promoted page will be seen by a higher number of visitors. And the higher the position of the link in the list, the greater amount of visitors will follow the link. Therefore, answering the question about what SEO optimization is, we can also say that this is one of the most effective technologies for attracting cheap traffic to a site.
The principle of operation looks very simple: the user enters a query of interest to him, and the search engine builds a list of links to resources in a certain order. After that, the potential client gets acquainted with a brief description of the resource and goes to it if it interests him. The higher the link is in the results, the more likely the transition is, since the user usually does not go beyond the first page of the output.
The principle of constructing search results on demand uses a complex sorting formula that takes into account dozens of parameters. The exact algorithm for such a ranking has not been disclosed by the owners of search engines. They’ve only articulated the general principles of building a qualified and useful resource for people which will help it to rise to the top. In practice, without the use of SEO techniques, it is almost impossible to bring a website to the first page of search results in a highly competitive commercial topic, even if it’s content and technical implementation are perfect.
SEO optimization involves the implementation of a number of actions aimed at gaining credibility with the target audience of the search engine.
- Determining the criteria that maximize the ranking of the site in the SERP, and focusing the work on the resource parameters that improve them.
- Formation of a relevant semantic core, the grouping of words by topic and redistribution of the site structure.
- Internal and external search engine resource optimization.
- Study of the usability of the site and the behavioral factor which plays an increasingly important role in assessing the quality of a resource (your website) by the search engines.
- Constant collection and analysis of the site visitors’ statistics from the search engine as well as their actions directly on the website.
- Adjustment of the promotion strategy based on the analysis of the collected statistics and its dynamics.
Naturally, each task is divided into many subtasks that can be performed by different specialists.
How to find out the effectiveness of the SEO strategy in 2020
Since this SEO service is quite expensive initially, both the customer and the contractor should be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken. This can be done most simply and clearly by two criteria:
- the dynamics of the site’s positions for the same request,
- the dynamics of traffic changes from the search engine.
The synthetic indicators taking into account several factors are often used to evaluate the effectiveness. For example, traffic may change due to seasonal demand, and an unscrupulous optimizer can pass this off as his merits. Likewise, raising a request in the search results may not lead to an increase in traffic, so you will have to look for and promote another, more efficient request.
That is why today you can encounter various fee structures for website promotion services which include, for example, a payment for holding specific positions or for the amount of minimal traffic to the resource — in other words, tying fees to indicators that can be easily verified by the client and that are the basis for evaluating the result.
The main steps in SEO marketing strategy
Conventionally, all work on compiling the SEO audit of an online store can be divided into these points:
- The structure optimization.
- Optimization of the technical component.
- Content component optimization.
How to optimize the site structure?
Structure is a website layout and linking of pages. The structure sets the sequence of transitions through sections, which are important for both users and search robots. Important pages in the hierarchy of the site structure should be higher, and all dependencies should be as logically placed as possible. What tasks should you pay attention to first when optimizing the structure of an online store?
- Separate categories. A typical mistake is to combine all categories into a common section.
- Expand the partition structure. Another common mistake is creating categories with a large number of products that are hidden in other sections of the site. Thus, the categories which can bring a lot of traffic are hidden too deeply in other categories. This arrangement can be justified from a business point of view: if the pages are hidden, then the goods are not a priority or do not bring significant income. Most often, category pages are not distributed correctly in terms of SEO.
- Separate product groups. Quite often, groups of different products with different search keywords are combined into one category. Sometimes this makes sense: when the goods are too similar or there are a lot of goods. However, there are often situations when creating groups is not entirely logical, and from the point of view of SEO, the page responds to a wide group of requests. In such cases, the semantic core is assembled for all groups of queries from the combined categories and their separation is carried out in the site structure.
- Create many filters. Filters are very important for optimization – a search engine bot’s detailed study of the filter structure leads to an increase in traffic because the search engine understands the website’s data better.
How to optimize the technical component of the site?
- Configure 301 redirects. It is important to check whether there are duplicate pages on the site, and if there are any, you can connect these pages using 301 redirects.
- Check the robots.txt file. You should check robots.txt and how it is composed. The robots.txt file is advisory and may be ignored by search engines if it’s composition isn’t helpful.
- Limit indexing of pages that are useless for search. The standard service pages of online stores are usually not search landing pages.
- Optimize inbound and outbound links. It is very important to prevent search bots from navigating to pages that were closed from indexing.
- The sitemap.xml file structure. The sitemap.xml file shows the search only the most relevant information about the site and its pages. You need to add landing pages to this document that will drive traffic.
How to optimize the content component of the site?
- Check metadata (Title, Description, Keywords, H1).
- Optimize the text in these fields. These were the first factors in ranking search engines.
- Implement competent internal linking.
Analysis of competitors
The foundation for the successful development and promotion of any online project, in particular, an online store, is laid at the initial stage – analysis of competitors. This step is extremely important for business owners who have already determined their field of activity. Based on the data obtained from the analysis of competitors you can build your promotion strategy aimed at obtaining the maximum result expected from pre-established goals for yourself.
Identifying Competitors for Analysis
There are two options for identifying competitors:
- Your own list of 3 or 5 competitors. As a rule, such a list will dictate your experience as a businessman of your own niche. The main thing to understand here is that the websites on this list conduct the same activities and have an online platform for promotion.
- Identification of the main players in the market. Those who dictate increased competition and set demand.
Selection of the most important parameters for analysis
It is necessary to determine the most important parameters which you will use to explore competitors. This analysis is rightly called competitor marketing research.
Here, according to relevant attributes of your niche, you can consider:
- Placement of your subject to sections of categories and products in them on the competitor sites, positioning of competitors in searches, market share, regions competitors serve, unique trading offers and advantages
- General information about the company (what it offers to its audience, values, mission, history)
- Description of the products and company
- Content (sales copy, photo-video content)
- Interactions on the site (registration, product catalog, calendar of events, calculator, personal account)
- Slogans and calls to action
- Website technology analysis
Competitor analysis includes:
- A list of competitors
- Analysis of external links to the site
- The semantic core of competitors
- Age of the site and pages bringing traffic
- The speed of loading the site and individual pages
- Website optimization for mobile devices
- Analysis of the range of products/services/pages
- Competitors’ traffic and their sources, average session duration, page views, bounce rate, and exit percents of pages with traffic
- Positions in search results for targeted search phrases
A strategy selection
A correctly chosen strategy determines the success and speed of website promotion. To create a strategy, we need to understand what goals to establish and in what time frames we will trying to achieve them. In other words, an SEO strategy is a plan to achieve a specific goal for a specified period of time.
The main goal of the website promotion in search engines can be to achieve TOP-10 positions for a number of significant queries in half a year or increase the traffic from specific searches by 10 thousand clicks a year, or double the number of orders from a website in 9 months. It is important that these goals are achievable and consistent with the reality of search engines, competitor’s SEO progress, and the state of the website that needs improvement. If the goal is not composed correctly, then you can waste both financial and temporary resources and still not achieve the desired result.
The strategy is formed for each site individually and depends on many factors:
- The type of the website: online store, content project, mono-brand website, niche attributes, niche audience preferences, etc. – every website will have its own unique promotion strategy.
- Themes of the resource: To formulate a strategy, it is important to understand how competitive the subject of the site is, what is the size of the search query core, whether there is a pronounced seasonality, etc.
- The site age: For example, it’s extremely difficult to quickly promote a new website based on popular competitive commercial requests.
- The previous history of the development and promotion of the site. For example, in the past a website was redesigned and page addresses had been changed, but redirects from old URLs to new ones was not configured – this will negatively affect the website’s positions in search engines and reduce organic traffic in proportion with the quantity of un-redirected pages that used to bring traffic.
- The site structure: Does it correspond to the structure of search demand? Are significant alterations necessary?
- The content.
- Geography. It is useless to try to promote the site on geo-dependent requests outside of your region.
The service of SEO or SEM marketing is a type of marketing aimed at getting the target audience of users from search engines on the Internet without paying per click. The SEO strategy is a part of the marketing campaign which consists of a certain sequence of tasks aimed at achieving the goals within a certain period of time. First of all, you need to find out: In which cases it is necessary to have an SEO strategy?
When is an SEO strategy needed?
- The client sets the task to “conquer” the market. The client has plans to take some market share away from competitors.
- The niche in which the client works is very competitive. Accordingly, it is necessary to understand how to achieve Top-10 positions in search results;
- The site contains over 30,000 pages. Large sites require specialists to work with large amounts of data and work on the site can be implemented by teams of SEO-optimizers.
What are some simple SEO optimization strategies?
The choice of strategy is directly affected by the goal, the age of the site, what competitors SEO strategies appear to be, and its niche.
The essence of the strategy is to achieve the TOP of search results for low-frequency and low-competitive search queries in order to get fast, easy traffic and then receive conversions from this traffic.
Features: We analyze competitors, look for search queries by which competitors are ranked weakly and prepare landing pages. We are working to actively increase the number of landing pages for low-frequency requests. Backlinks are placed on donor sites of medium quality. The main thing is quick placement and quick indexing of the donor site. We implement as many automation as possible (generation of page meta tags, generation of image alt tags, and content generation). Speed, in this case, is more important than quality.
Cons of the strategy:
- Low quality
- Possible blurring the relevance of the site for search queries
- Low site conversion rate
The essence of the strategy: Promoting a site on medium and low volume queries with little or medium competition to get better traffic to the site and more targeted leads.
Feature: Lots of attention is directed to the quality of pages and content and the content and meta tags are rewritten. The relevance of the pages themselves for search queries is increased. It takes a lot of time to increase the site’s conversions. The work is initiated to get more trust backlinks. In this strategy, quality is paramount.
Cons of the strategy:
- Website development takes quite a lot of time (many times more than in the previous strategy);
- Longer achievement of results;
- Work on this strategy is more expensive.
Leader – or Power Strategy
The essence of the strategy: Total dominance over competitors, the site moving to the TOP 3 – TOP 5 positions in a very broad semantic core of search queries. Often, the struggle is between market leaders. Entire armies of specialists may be involved in the projects.
Feature: Work on the links for this strategy is secondary. Due to the popularity of the site, links grow by themselves. SEO-optimizers of such projects often go deep into internal optimization. Text content is written in the highest quality, has 100% expertise and usefulness, and various methods of presenting information are used – video, infographics, multimedia elements.
Cons of the strategy:
- Very high implementation costs;
- You will need a team of specialists working only on this project;
- A system for processing and analyzing large amounts of information is required.
The essence of the strategy: Work with a huge number of pages of categories, product filters, and product data.
Features: The main and most important work is the collection of the full semantic core of search queries and its clustering. The semantic core provides an understanding of which pages to create and which product filters to open for indexing. Internal linking together with indexing of the site are very important — because it is necessary to index a lot of new products. It will be necessary to work out the reputation and reviews inside the site and on external sites. External links are built up after the main internal work on the site is complete.
Cons of the strategy:
- A large number of pages can be not only an advantage but also a disadvantage in that a website’s search engine crawl budget may be wasted on pages that won’t bring significant traffic. Large sites require larger budgets for optimization and promotion.
- It is necessary to do regular audits and look for internal technical errors.
The essence of the strategy: Improving the reputation and brand awareness by using SEO-optimization methods.
Features: This strategy involves attracting more branded traffic to the site. Traffic that is associated with the name of the company, with the name of the services, goods, products of the company. The work is aimed more at external optimization of the site: publishing review articles on relevant sites, posting reviews and dealing with negatives, working with search tips – the recommendation of search engines is very important for such projects.
Cons of the strategy:
- The strategy does not directly affect sales, only indirectly;
- Only changes to brand queries and brand traffic are tracked.
The internal SEO site optimization includes a large amount of work, mainly to improve site indexing. We divide them into the main components.
Page URL is the address of a page on the Internet. The structure of the URL affects SEO of sites, it determines the level of nesting of the page. The recommendation for this item is to create a “human-readable” or canonical address.
The title tag is the most significant meta tag among the others in terms of promotion by keywords. It shows the subject of the page to both the user when displaying the search results and the search engine. Therefore, it is very important to correctly compose a title tag for your page.
Meta description and keywords
The description tag – not very significant in promotion, but it greatly affects the click-through rate as it contains a brief description of the page. Today, the keywords tag is no longer used by the vast majority of webmasters, as search engines do not use the data from this tag when ranking. Keywords can be highlighted in the content of the page itself, for example, with the strong tag which gives them importance in the text. The alt tag, which is responsible for the description of the picture, is also acceptable for this item. In this case, the search engine will understand the subject of the image in the content.
By importance in SEO site promotion, the h1-h6 header tags are the text considered next after the title tag. The rules for generating header tags are similar to the rules for creating meta-titles. Search engines rank the content of header tags to determine the relevance of the page. Moreover, the h1 through h6 tags are the most significant through the least significant respectively; this should be taken into account when using them. The h1 tag on the page is used once and is placed at the top of the page, it should also include a key phrase. Structuring of this kind has a positive effect both on page rank from search bots and on-page display on different devices.
Microdata and indexing
Microdata markup is the chosen standard for designating page content so that it is understandable to search engines and correctly displayed in search results. Indexing is the process of adding collected information to a search engine database. For example, content that does not need to be promoted is closed from indexing in robots.txt (a file with instructions for search robots) or using meta tags. This is done so that the “technical” pages do not waste the search engine’s crawl budget of your website or take up positions in search where pages designed to convert would be more beneficial.
A few additional parameters that affect SEO:
- A navigation system is an ideal element for optimization as it increases the “usability” of the site for the user.
- The number of internal links has a positive effect on optimization.
- Intelligently formatted content.
- Optimizing images used in the design to increase download speed.
- Use of only the scripts necessary.
- Remove all scripts from the page code into a separate file;
- Performance depends on the hosting;
- Pure “readable” site code for the robot.
External optimization of sites is one of the types of work on SEO which consists of building link mass from external sources. These are all kinds of sites on the Internet that link to your resource.
Some ways to get external links:
- through thematic catalogs;
- through link exchange;
- purchase of links (exchange);
- social networks, forums, blogs;
- links in the comments.
There are so many ways to achieve this goal, but you also need to follow the rules for recruiting link mass in order not to get under the filters (sanctions) of search engines. It is important to remember that SEO promotion can be harmful if you use its tools thoughtlessly.
Some basic rules:
- smoothness (it is worth gradually increasing the reference mass);
- frequent updating of information (the more new unique content, the better);
- achieve natural links (use existing sites, forums, etc.);
- placement of external links to resources with a good reputation;
- variety (forums, blogs, sites);
- build link mass of different pages of the promoted resource;
- use beneficial anchor text (link text).
Links can be divided into:
- Internal. This type is the most accessible since the work takes place on the resource itself. To obtain internal links, you need a well-thought-out linking of the site taking into account the rules for link building.
- Natural. Such links have the greatest value in the promotion, they give weight, bring the traffic to the resource and, importantly, they are eternal. Obtaining such links is achieved, for example, through an exchange with other sites of the same subject.
- Free. For this type, you can include links from large sites that have a lot of traffic, social networks, forums, directories and more. This type is ineffective, but it helps to diversify the source. The main thing here is not to turn it into spam, naturalness should be the search engine’s perception.
- Purchased. One of the easiest ways, but financially expensive. These are links for the placement of which you need to pay a certain amount of money. At the same time, such links are very effective, they are placed on proven resources with a good reputation and they are purchased in the quantities that you specifically need.
You need to ensure the presence of all kinds of links to diversify the link mass and evenly distribute it over time. This is how you will succeed.