How to improve SEO: Strategies to try first
So many factors influence SEO performance that there are countless different threads to be pulled.
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 for prioritizing first.
Structure your SEO strategy
Any project you include in your SEO strategy should have a clear outcome.
There is a useful framework that I like to call “PIE” which stands for Protect, Improve, and Expand:
In pursuit of quick results, your first instinct might be to look for incremental visits right away.
However, it is vital that you take precautions to protect your site’s performance.
This includes making sure your site’s technical foundation is sound and that you know which keywords and pages are driving significant organic traffic to your site.
There will almost certainly be keywords that your site already has relevant content for, but those pages are not yet ranking in a position that will drive traffic.
Before investing in new content creation, optimizing these pages to rank higher will help you capture that search interest and increase page visits, often with much less effort.
Amplifying your website content to drive more website visits is the last phase your strategy should cover.
This includes identifying search queries that your site could rank for with fresh content and creating content optimized for those terms.
Strategies to protect your SEO performance
Check the technical condition of your website
Neglecting to take care of the technical health of your website is like building a house on shabby foundations.
It doesn’t matter how impressive you make it; the whole thing could collapse at any second.
When protecting the existing performance of your website, you should first review 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 making your content and core web vitals mobile-friendly, ensuring your important content is indexable, and eliminating redirect chains.
You should also ensure that you continuously monitor the technical health of your site over time to catch problems before they impact your search performance or user experience.
Ideally, look for crawlers that can alert you to any problems that may arise.
Understand your most valuable content
When it comes to maintaining your website’s SEO score, you need to identify the top traffic terms and pages for your website.
This data is available through Google Search Console and helps you monitor traffic changes.
By creating keyword clusters and tracking their ranking positions, you can also diagnose the reasons behind traffic fluctuations (e.g., interest vs. rank change) and ensure that you can take action if one of your keywords is declining in performance.
Page segments can help you summarize the performance of these key pages independently of 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 for improvement
When identifying high potential keywords to optimize for, there are two main factors to consider:
- That monthly search volume the Terms.
- That current ranking your content.
The number of clicks a result receives decreases rapidly the further it is from page one on Google or any other search engine.
The goal for optimized content should be to rank within the top ten results, since anything outside of the top ten generates negligible traffic.
If your content ranks in the 11-20 range for high-volume keywords, a little well-researched optimization can put your ranking in a position where it can drive a lot more traffic to your site.
The best way to understand the most effective optimizations is to observe the content that Google already ranks in the top positions – look at similarities in content breadth or specificity, metadata, content length, complexity, etc .
Then make adjustments to your content to match those pages.
Adding contextual internal links from other important pages on your site can also help improve Google’s understanding of your page, especially if you choose anchor text related to the terms you’re targeting.
Use the Rich Result Opportunities schema
Aside from finding ways to rank in the top ten standard results, there are often real benefits to having rich results on the results pages.
Look at the result types present on the results pages for the terms you are targeting – particularly those owned by your direct competitors – and adjust your content structure to make it more compatible and appropriate for those results.
Strategies to enhance your SEO performance
Expanding your output usually involves creating new content, which means this area of your strategy is probably one of the most labor intensive.
You need to identify keywords that your site doesn’t have “bullseye” content for (pages that perfectly target the terms users are searching for).
Identify keywords for content expansion
Identifying keyword opportunities for new content is a lot more complicated than finding keywords to protect or keywords to improve your ranking for.
That’s because by their very nature, they’re not found in your own site’s keyword data. So where should you start looking?
- content mapping: There are multiple ways to segment your content – by category, user type or persona, stage of the customer journey, etc. Cross-referencing these segments can reveal gaps in the way you are helping your users and give you direction when you start your keyword and topic research.
- competitive analysis: By researching competitor websites and understanding where they rank, you can identify where you are missing opportunities to appear in searches for the same users. If your research tool allows it, by rolling up these terms to show your competitors’ most valuable pages, you can create equivalent pages that can target multiple terms.
Create new content for SEO
Creating brand new content for SEO allows you to leverage your research on competitor content to customize your page with all the structural and on-page elements needed to rank well.
On the other hand, it may take longer for brand new content to be discovered and take root in the results.
It’s important to ensure it integrates well with your site via internal links, as well as accommodating seasonality and interest trends, and ensuring new content is created in a timely manner.
New pages often involve different teams, so it makes sense to set up a briefing process to ensure your SEO research is clearly captured and incorporated into the new content.
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