What SEO efforts does your business need?

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Travis Brown
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Most businesses approach SEO from a very general standpoint. Many agencies and consultants might also try to sell you a wide range of services as a package deal. Often, this is entirely unnecessary. Your website might only need search optimization in specific, key, areas.

For example, your site might already contain substantial content. In some cases, improving your site structure and navigation might be worthwhile. This can not only improve user experience, but also improve your internal link structure, which is important for good SEO.

You might have previously seen the four core principles of how SEO works. Let’s talk about the four core areas of SEO implementation. Understanding these can help you pinpoint what efforts you need so your time and budget is used for the best effect.

Content strategy

Having a well-organized, coherent content strategy is critical for good SEO. This creates a good user experience (UX) for your customers. It makes your content, products, and services easy for them to discover.

It also addresses as many of their questions, concerns, pain points, needs, and wants as possible. The more of these things you address publicly on your website, the more trust customers will have that you truly understand them.

The important thing to know about content strategy is it’s not simply a blog post schedule. A proper strategy will typically span many months. It will also usually focus on building towards a goal or building depth of coverage across topics within your niche.

For example, say you’re a company that makes and sells dog beds. You might plan a 6-12 month content strategy that covers important topics in your niche such as:

  • Material and construction
  • Allergen concerns
  • Durability and longevity
  • Size and design

In each of those 4 areas, there might be many different sub-topics you want to create content around. Bottom line, don’t think in terms of a posting schedule, as that’s merely the method of posting. Think in terms of the overall number of topics to include in a campaign, then figure out a posting schedule from there.

This is where keyword research becomes critical. You want to identify the topics your users are actually searching for so you create the content that solves their needs.

Site structure

As we just talked about, SEO isn’t just about having a lot of content. It has to be well-organized. As your website grows over time to hundreds or thousands of pages of content, organization becomes critical.

There are many components of a website that can help in creating this organization Here are a few common ones:

  • Header and footer navigation
  • Breadcrumbs and in-page navigation
  • Internal linking and calls to action (CTA)
  • Site search, facets, and filters
  • Categorization and tagging

Keep in mind, you also want to match this with your content strategy. For example, you want to have a coherent structure for categorization and tagging of your content.

Say you’re a “mom blogger” with 1,000 blog posts. Having one of your blog categories be “Personal Finance”, with 300 articles within it, isn’t particularly useful for users. With a sizable amount of articles in such a category, you’d want to look at creating sub-categories to make things easier to find. Here’s a hierarchical example of how you might improve that.

  • Personal Finance
    • Retirement Planning
    • Banking
    • Home Ownership
    • Taxes

Now you’d end up with a coherent category structure and categories that have a few dozen posts more tightly targeted to specific subjects or niches. This is much easier for your users to consume and makes for a much nicer experience.

Technical SEO

Marketer mapping checkout workflow on whiteboard.

Getting into the technical side is probably not needed for most sites initially. Your efforts are usually better spent in planning and implementing a good content strategy, improving site structure, product and business development, and maybe customer relations.

Technical SEO becomes more important when you’re trying to maximize UX and reduce technical barriers to site performance. For example, optimizing the speed of your site. No one likes long page load times and clunky page rendering (the way a webpage loads). Technical SEO generally involves optimization for things like:

  • Crawl rate
  • Search indexing
  • Page load time
  • Page rendering

A good place to check if your technical SEO might be good enough is Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Run a scan on the homepage of your site, and maybe a couple of other pages. If your scores are mostly ~80+, this is a good sign.

Another tool we’d recommend checking is Google Search Console. Specifically, you want to check how well your site is indexing and being crawled by Google. Are most of your site pages being found and indexed by Google? If not, you may notice many “404 errors” in Search Console. Errors such as those can be a sign that some technical SEO is needed.

Ultimately, when assessing technical SEO needs, you want to balance this with other marketing efforts. For example, content production. If a site is relatively small and doesn’t have much content, things like site speed are less of a concern. Adding more content would be more effective for you. In another case, if a site is many years old and has hundreds of indexed site pages, things like optimizing site speed and internal link structure can be much more critical.

Off-site SEO

Grid of social profile icons.

Off-site SEO can be one of the most boring and annoying parts of SEO. It can also be one of the most valuable. The traditional way people discuss this is from the standpoint of “link building”. In essence, you’re building or acquiring links from other sites pointing to yours. This also includes brand mentions from other websites.

The easiest way to start out with off-site SEO is to simply start creating social profiles for your brand on as many of the popular social platforms as you can. When you create these, make sure to use your logo, fill out at least basic profile details, company descriptions, and include links to your site. Some of these platforms also allow you to link to your other social profiles, which we’d recommend.

Some platforms may seem irrelevant for your business but, we’d recommend looking at it differently. Although you might never be active on certain platforms, it can still be important to a create a profile on many of them. For example, these are some of the largest and most active platforms in the world:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Vimeo
  • SoundCloud
  • Twitch

At least a few of those on that list might have raised an eyebrow. Some may seem entirely irrelevant to you. Think of it like this. These are well-established platforms. Due to their age and high degree of traffic, search engines see these as “trusted platforms”.

When you have a filled out profile, a user or page name that matches your brand, your logo is present, links to your site… these are links on trusted platforms. This helps identify your brand and ultimately your website as much more than simply another random site on the internet.

The average spammer or low-investment marketer doesn’t go to that level of effort. This is why it’s important for you to do so to further set your brand apart from the crowd.

Now, there are hundreds of these platforms but, don’t worry! We recommend taking at least the top ~10-15 of these platforms (prioritizing any that are most relevant to your brand) and creating profiles on those. Over time, feel free to create more on other platforms but, it’s not something you have to do exhaustively.