In all competitions strategy plays a big part, if you do the same as the ”other guy”, then unless you are faster or fitter, you are going to lose. Being smarter can give the “edge” over the competition, and so it is no different in the world of Search Engine Optimisation.
Google and other search engines are the big competitive online portals, where the strongest websites for certain search terms will rank in the highest positions. The results for these fitter websites, are more sales, bigger profits and higher brand visibility.
What Does A SEO Strategist Do?
Creating a basic plan to help rank a website higher is not that difficult to create, after all there are a multitude of you tube videos and a plethora of website and blog articles to assist with the knowledge of Search engine optimisation. The overall objective of a “SEO Strategist” is to increase authority, trust and engagement signals, so search engines such as Google see an online property as the best option to rank high.
The most basic SEO strategy is to find a website that ranks well for a chosen search term and then reverse engineer that website.
…data to analyse would include:
1/ Look at the backlink profile, using a third party application such as “ahrefs” or “Majestic SEO”. Backlinks are a very powerful source of adding authority to a website in Google eyes, so studying the links that are powering a successful website and then mirroring that profile or at least the strengths of that profile, is a starting point. (more on this later).
These third party tools try to emulate authority and trust the backlnks are generating. Although these tools are good indicators, these Domain Rating and Domain Authority scores are not those used by Google. These remain secret to Google. The process of studying backlinks and aquiring them is often called “Offpage SEO.”
2/ Full content review. Look though all the content of that powerful website, to note how well written and relevant the content is. How much content is there and what extra media is being used, ie unique images, videos. How the content links together and what file system is being used.
It is fair to say, that if this website has 1000, well written unique content articles, then a content strategy will be needed to be created for Google to see that your website as having more trust and authority than anyone else.
Keywords play a big part within any content strategy, so identifying the keywords used within Title tags, headers and page body are again basic requisites. What website owners do with content is often refered to as “Onpage SEO”.
3/ Social Profiles. This is not about how many Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc followers your competition has, but how much these users interact with the kry website, refered too as engagement signals. Unfortunately this info may not be readily available, but you can see how often and what posts are being created by the competition and how many likes etc. So a Social media strategy, will help.
4/ Full website audit with regular reviews and is often referred to as “Technical SEO”. This is about ensuring your website is fully “mobile friendly”, loads fast, is secure ie htpps, rather than http and does not have errors, such as broken links, canonical issues or duplicate content. You could write a full book on the type of errors that can occur, and it is pointless having a great strategy to help with your search engine optimisation if your website loads slowly or cannot be used on a mobile phone etc.
A good technical seo tool to start any website audit is the “Google Search Console”, which will show certain errors. Again there are many tutorials and information on the web for this.
A SEO strategist will have gone through the above process many times and will know, the importance of each process. As mentioned before there is lots of info on the internet that will have a more detailed explanation of each subject above and some more.
Taking a Strategy To The Next Level
This is where a good Search engine optimisation strategist will earn their salary and why you see many jobs being advertised on Job websites for this exact job description by digital agencies looking for creative individuals that can see through the SEO jungle and created real unique strategies that empower an online presence.:
Hint: It is also true that some of these positions are advertised on high authority job websites in order to gain a powerful backlink to the relevant agency website.
For competitive keywords doing what everyone else is doing is a good platform but often not enough to command better power rankings.:
“I have spend some time researching these advanced strategies, from those who were good enough to share or from my own testing and trial.”
Take for instance the UK mattress retailer, Dreams as reported by the SEO agency salience.co.uk.
For many Dreams is an online and traditional bricks and mortar retailer that sells quality mattresses. Had Dreams just relied on reverse engineering another successful bed website, at best they may have achieved similar rankings for certain mattress search terms. But by understanding that what Dreams really sold was a good nights sleep, this opened up so many other linking and authority partnerships and a huge increase in visibility.
Dreams became an authority website on a good nights sleep. So many people are searching for advice on how to sleep better, doctors and scientists are prepared to link and use this material. Magazines and newspapers doing heir own health articles on sleep, would then link to the website. There are also connections with famous athletes and sports people needing recovery time, so Dreams also connected with Team GB for the Olympics.
Try searching for most bed terms and in most cases Dreams will be there, Salience claim there was a 781% increase in organic traffic. Clearly there has been a financial reward for that strategy.
Going Beyond Basic Keyword Research
Google claimed back in 2017 that 15% of all search terms have never been used before, which is a big hint not just to copy the competition but look beyond the obvious opportunities. Some affiliate marketers aim for thousands of long tail keywords within their copy articles, which is not as easy to do as man may think, as the copy still needs to be of high quality and not spam.
“Spending quality time on this can really improve visibility if done correctly.”
Semantics and synonyms can take the written copy to an even higher level. SEO content strategists will know if they are good enough to write the content or if a professional writing service needs to be employed.
Engagement Signals, Can Mean the Difference.
Many digital strategists will say the difference between first and second position, is often not backlinks, content or keywords but engagement signals. After all to get to position 2, many things must already be correct, so how visitors engage with a website can often be the key to better rankings. Google Search Console and Analytics shows some very useful data on this subject. Key data signals include, but not conclusive.
1/ “Bounce Rate” this is where a visitor only visits one page and then clicks the back button to go back. Clearly this can be a bad sign if many visitors choose not to stay in the first few seconds of arrival.
2/ Time on site (retention). Clearly it people are staying and reading content, then this is a signal all is good.
3/ Pages visited, what pages are visited etc.
4/ Click though Rate (CTR). This is often denied by Google representatives, that this is used within the algorithm. But most SEO consultant will argue a goof click though rate, sends positive signals to Google.
SEO Tools Used By The Professionals
1/ Google Search Console/ Analytics
3/ Majestic SEO
4/ SEM Rush
6/ Yoast for WordPress
9/ Keyword Generator
10 / Copyscape
There are many more, most of the above have a charge associated with them.
How To Know What SEO Digital Strategies Work
Well, the first thing is not to assume that what is read on the internet is correct and will stand the test of time. Most serious SEO consultants will have test websites. These are sites that exist just to test what works and what does not. They will make their own minds up, real info, real time.
“I have several sites and spent nearly 2 years, testing strategies that did not involve any back links, outwardly links only, exact keyword domains and some very aggressive techniques where the threshold of failure was measured. Testing now is more around engagement, I still try to look for alternatives to backlinks. I learnt far more from mistakes than the successes.”
Of course things are changing all the time, some suggest that 75% of all SEO information is either out of date or was false in the first place, so when deciding who to trust, look at the date published and visitor engagement for trust signals. Lets me honest, those who have spent years researching, testing and making mistakes in order to discover what really works in different SEO niches.
Google algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin and others really took out digital agencies and self employed individuals who had made a living from untested strategies. I have sites that were hit badly by Google Penguin several years ago, although frustrating, the lessons learnt for recovery have been invaluable,
So the final strategy for any SEO project is for all processes to stand the test of time and can survive and hopefully thrive though the many updates that occur yearly.