How To Improve SEO: Strategies To Try First
So many factors impact SEO performance that there are countless different threads to be pulled on.
How do you know where to focus your time and effort to significantly impact your KPIs and demonstrate progress?
Here are a few tips and strategies to prioritize first.
Structuring Your SEO Strategy
Every project you include in your SEO strategy should have a clear outcome.
There’s a useful framework that I like to call “PIE,” which stands for Protect, Improve, and Expand:
In pursuit of quick results, your first instinct may be to go after incremental visits immediately.
However, ensuring you are taking precautions to protect your site’s performance is vital.
That includes ensuring the technical foundation of your site is sound and ensuring you know which keywords and pages drive significant organic traffic to your site.
There will almost certainly be keywords your site has relevant content for already, but these pages don’t yet rank in a position that drives traffic.
Before you invest in creating new content, optimizing these pages to rank higher will help you capture this search interest and increase page visits, often with much less effort.
Expanding your site’s content to drive more site visits is the final stage your strategy should cover.
This involves identifying searches your site could rank for with new content and creating content optimized for those terms.
Strategies To Protect Your SEO Performance
Audit Your Website’s Technical Health
Neglecting to pay attention to the technical health of your site is like building a house on shoddy foundations.
It doesn’t matter how impressive you make it; the whole thing could crumble at any second.
When protecting your site’s existing performance, the first consideration should be to audit your technical health and ensure that it reflects Google’s guidelines and advice on current and future ranking signals.
At the time of writing, current priorities include mobile-friendliness of your content and core web vitals, ensuring the indexability of your important content, and eliminating redirect chains.
You should also ensure that you continue monitoring your site’s technical health over time to catch any issues before they impact your search performance or user experience.
Ideally, look for crawlers that can alert you to issues as they arise.
Understand Your Most Valuable Content
When it comes to preserving the SEO value of your site, you will need to identify the top traffic-driving terms and pages for your site.
This data is available via Google Search Console and will help you monitor traffic changes.
Creating keyword groups and tracking their ranking positions will also allow you to diagnose the reasons behind traffic fluctuations (interest vs. rank change, for example) and ensure that you can intervene if the performance of any of your key terms falls.
Page segments can help you to roll up the performance of these key pages, separate from your overall reporting.
Strategies To Improve Your SEO Performance
When discussing areas for improvement, you want to look for opportunities where content already exists but could perform better.
Pinpoint Keyword Rankings With Room To Improve
When identifying high-potential keywords to optimize for, there are two main factors to consider:
- The monthly search volume of the terms.
- The current ranking position of your content.
The number of clicks a result receives declines quickly the further it ranks away from page one of Google or any other search engine.
The goal for optimized content should be ranking within the top ten results, as anything outside of the top ten produces negligible traffic.
If your content ranks in the 11-20 range for high-volume keywords, a little well-researched optimization can boost your ranking into a position where it can bring many more visitors to your site.
The best way to understand the most effective optimizations is to observe the content Google is already ranking in the top positions – look at commonalities across the breadth or specificity of the content, the metadata, the content length, complexity, etc.
Then make adjustments to your content to align with these pages.
Adding contextualized internal links from other important pages on your site can also help reinforce Google’s understanding of your page, especially if you choose anchor text related to the terms you are targeting.
Use Schema For Rich Result Opportunities
As well as looking for opportunities to rank in the top ten standard results, there are often real benefits to owning rich results on the result pages.
Look at the result types present on the results pages for the terms you’re targeting – especially those owned by your direct competitors – and adapt your content structure to make it more compatible and suitable for these results.
Strategies To Expand Your SEO Performance
Expanding your performance usually involves creating new content, which means this area of your strategy is likely to be one of the most labor-intensive.
You’ll need to identify keywords for which your site has no “bullseye” content (pages perfectly aligned with terms users are searching for).
Identify Keywords For Content Expansion
Identifying keyword opportunities for new content is much more complicated than finding keywords to protect or keywords for which you can improve your rankings.
That’s because, by their nature, they will not be found in your own site’s keyword data. So, where should you start your search?
- Content Mapping: There are several ways to segment your content – by category, user type or persona, customer journey stage, etc. Cross-referencing these segments can highlight gaps in how you help your users, giving you direction when you begin your keyword and topic research.
- Competitor Analysis: Researching competitors’ websites and understanding where they rank can help you identify where you’re missing chances to appear in search for the same users. If your research tool allows it, rolling these terms up to show your competitors’ most valuable pages will allow you to create equivalent pages that may target multiple terms.
Create New Content For SEO
Creating brand-new content for SEO enables you to use your research on competitor content to tailor your page with all the structure and on-page elements needed to rank well.
On the other hand, brand-new content can take longer to be discovered and establish itself in the results.
Ensuring it’s well-integrated into your site via internal links is vital, as is considering seasonality and interest trends and ensuring new content is created in plenty of time.
New page creation often involves other teams, so it’s valuable to establish a briefing process to ensure that your SEO research is captured clearly and incorporated into the new content.
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