A Three-Stage Approach To SEO
Search Engine Optimization can be a complicated form of advertising to understand. Most outsiders view it as a combination of efforts from technically minded people with a little bit of magic mixed in. That assessment isn’t too far from the truth, but ultimately, SEO doesn’t have to complicated. As time has gone on, the search engines have become better at rewarding companies who are simply doing the right thing, which is demonstrating their expertise in the field and ensuring their website is in tip-top shape, with regular updates. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but what we’ll try to break down today is a three-step approach that most businesses can take to improve their SEO and earn more traffic.
Our Three-Stage Approach
- Technically Perfect Website
- Content & Keyword Mapping
- Link Building and Social
Technically Perfect Website
Our first stage is to have a technically perfect website. What does that mean exactly? Simply put, it’s minimizing errors on your website that a crawler may find and ensure that the pages you do have are up to best practices. Part of this will bleed into our second step, where we’ll talk more about how to map content, but for right now, we want to address the pieces that most important. If your website is full of errors, broken links, or other issues that aren’t as obvious, like duplicate content pages that don’t utilize a canonical tag.
When diving into a new SEO project, we want to understand the lay of the land and the current state of things, as they’re read by search engines. This typically involves in an depth crawl of the site, which mimics the way the Search Engine bots crawl and diagnose your website. We’re able to identify potential problem areas and organize those challenges into an action plan to correct and improve upon those deficiencies. Additionally, when assessing the technical nature of your website, we’ll use tools provided by the search engines themselves, like Google Search Console, which can directly identify issues your site is experiencing.
Ultimately, having a technically perfect website is the first step in telling the search engines that you’re a site that’s worth visiting. While it’s hard (but not impossible) to win top rankings simply by having a perfect website, this is an area where you can absolutely lose the ability to rank highly. If your site is riddled with errors and problems, your odds of ranking on the first page are next to nothing and the likelihood of you being penalized is high. This is why it’s the foundation step to good SEO and is typically where we start our process.
Content & Keyword Mapping
Our second stage in this three-step process is where you have an opportunity to shine. Your unique content is your differentiator and is the strongest indicator of what your website represents. Google and other search engines want to match websites with relevant searches. The purpose of search engines hasn’t changed over the years, but what has is the ability for search engines to read and crawl your websites more and more like a human would read it, coupled with more advanced content segmentation that allows savvy websites to send stronger signals about content to the search engines. So as the search engines get smarter, we have a responsibility to get smarter about our content, which is why a sound SEO content strategy is important to us.
So what does a content strategy consist of? Well, part of that depends on the amount of content you’re able to produce and the competitive nature of your industry. That said, there are pieces that are universal to all websites. This touches back on having technically perfect SEO, but one of the primary drivers is making sure all of our content locations are aligned for any given page and are sufficiently focused on the core topic of that page. This means everything from the body copy, H1 tags, meta titles and descriptions, image alt tags, and schema markup are all aligned. We do this to ensure we’re sending appropriate signals to the search engines and that we’re not leaving anything on the table. This strategy ensures that when we put the effort into drafting a content piece, it gets the appropriate treatment 100% of the time.
Content strategy also entails creating the right kind of content. This part of a content strategy is focused on discovering gaps in your particular space, that are interesting or relevant to your audience or potential audience. For example, maybe you sell something like a phone clip that goes on a bicycle, which allows users to utilize the health features of your phone. Let’s call it the Bike Clip 1000. You have a great product page for the clip and maybe even a great product review that discusses the features of the clip and you’re generating traffic to people looking for that particular clip. A gap might be that there are likely people who have the clip, but maybe are looking for an instructional article or video on how to install it. They might be utilizing the following search, “how to install the Bike Clip 1000” or “Bike Clip 1000 installation.” Drafting up a quick article or video that shows how easy it is to install is a great way to fill that gap and earn more visitors to your site. It also allows you to become an authority on all things Bike Clip 1000. These are all good things. Finally, they may find enough value in the content and the product that they may share it with their network, which brings us to the third step in our process, link building and social.
Link Building and Social
So now that you’ve got a great, content-driven website, you’re the leader of your respected industry and a resource for anyone who needs your product or service, rankings and traffic will just naturally happen right? Well, not exactly. You see, there are other signals that show the maturity and effectiveness of a website. While there are certainly industries and fields where simply having a fresh, robust site can generate top of page rankings, for most websites, you’re going to need a healthy backlink profile as well. Historically, SEO’s have explained inbound links as being similar to casting a vote of approval. So if I have a website and I see a piece of content that’s worthy of sharing with my audience and I include a link to that content, I’m essentially casting a vote of approval, which the search engines receive and weigh in their algorithm. The more relevant votes, the higher the probability of them determining the value of your website.
This is another area that has evolved over time. As black-hat SEOs realized they could game the system with fictional links, the search engines had to get smarter. Unnatural back-link profiles can result in big penalties, so as SEOs and website owners, we have to make sure we’re earning our links naturally. This is the approach that Sound Press takes. We want to ensure we have link building opportunities, by leveraging the content we’re creating, sharing it with the appropriate audience, and are interacting with those who are interacting with us.
Every client’s opportunities to build great backlinks is unique and our job is to understand what resources we have and build a strategy to generate good, quality links, while doing the things you already do best. We feel this is an important enough topic that we’ve dedicated an entire blog post to it, which we’ll publish as the fifth part of this SEO/SEM series. Stay tuned for that.
Our 8-Part Series on Search Engine Marketing
As we wrap up the first part of our eight-part series, this is a reminder to stay tuned for our weekly blogs on the following topics. We hope you enjoy!
Part 1: A Three-Step Approach to SEO
Part 2: PPC Proving Ground
Part 3: Local SEO Drives In-Store Sales
Part 4: Why PPC Matters Today
Part 5: Link Build By Being Yourself
Part 6: How A PPC Auction Works
Part 7: The Pulse of Modern SEO
Part 8: PPC For Profit
Comprehensive Marketing Review
Finally, consider engaging Sound Press in a free four hour comprehensive marketing review. In this review, we’ll look at all aspect of your digital marketing and digital growth opportunities. To learn more click below.