Unlike SEA (Search Engine Advertising) which relies on a more traditional form of advertising, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) hinges on the traffic generated by natural search results rather than by the sponsored results.
Experts who know how to optimize for SEO make sure to address all of 200 criteria that Google uses when analyzing a site. The idea is to improve the website’s ranking and to bring it as close to the top as possible. While an SEO optimisation strategy has 3 main building blocks (technology, semantics, and popularity), it is designed to be constantly adjusted and aims for long-term results.
What Is an SEO Optimisation Strategy?
Identifying the competition
First things first, a website optimisation strategy is built by analyzing the competition in order to adapt your actions and ambitions based on SERP results for your subject matter. Note that the acronym SERP, which stands for “Search Engine Result Page”, refers to the web page generated by a search engine.
Knowing how to optimize for SEO is also a question of identifying all your competitors, studying the keywords for which they rank, auditing their websites, analyzing their reputation, following their social media activity, and observing the changes they go through.
Good to know: Avoid overly general searches that typically favour well-established brands and large eCommerce sites. Go for more specific queries instead. For instance, instead of targeting “coat”, opt for “pea jacket”.
Defining Objectives for your SEO Optimisation Strategy
With a better understanding of your competitors and once you have pinpointed your target audience, building a search engine optimisation strategy implies that you will set clear objectives before taking any action. It is customary to apply the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals methodology.
For example, it could look something like this: increasing the number of leads generated by the website by 25 per cent over a period of 6 months. To achieve this, we will need to bring the pages that currently appear on page 2 to page 1 of Google’s results.
Good to know: KPIs “Key Performance Indicators” are key indicators through which you can measure elements subject to change, such as the click-through rate, organic sessions, number of pages per session, conversion rate, etc.
Analyzing and Auditing the Site
A sound SEO optimisation strategy aims to please Google – particularly when it comes to how the search giant perceives your website. This part implies a perfect knowledge of SEO, since you need to determine which elements to prioritize among the multiple criteria that the search engine takes into account.
That means hundreds of factors to analyze, including your SEO methodology, the website’s architecture, selecting and emphasizing the right keywords, the “responsive” dimension of your site, link building, backlinks, UX (User Experience), etc.
Good to know: SEO experts rely on several (paid) tools to carry out this audit: Ahrefs, Botify, Semrush, SEObserver, Moz, Allorank, Hotjar, Google Mobile Test, PageSpeed de Google, etc. The idea is to take the very best of what each one has to offer, be it for certain segments of the analysis such as SXO, or for keeping an eye on your rankings, monitoring your backlinks, etc.
SEO Optimisation Strategy: Which Levers Should You Activate?
Several technical factors can impact an organic SEO optimisation strategy: HTTPS, HTML, 404 Errors, Sitemap, and Robots.txt count among the elements to treat as a priority.
Then you need to consider current Internet usage, which reveals that people in the UK spend 3.7 hours per day on their smartphones. They are also likely to spend over GBP 100 billion per year shopping on their mobile devices by 2024. This means that every website should imperatively be mobile friendly to allow users to browse comfortably.
Technical website optimisation also means working on your pages’ loading time. Google lists three Core Web Vitals that directly impact positioning on the result pages. These are the LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), which measures how quickly the main content of a web page is loaded, FID (First Input Delay) which looks at the loading time that follows every action from a visitor, and CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift), which relates to the visual stability of the pages.
Good to know: An SEO optimisation strategy also considers how the pages’ content is showcased from a technical perspective. Beyond the appropriate keywords, it implies optimizing hn titles, title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs.
Semantically Relevant Content
Beyond their technical dimension, website optimisation strategies rely on the production of relevant content, designed to make an impact on indexing robots and Internet users alike. When it comes to how you optimize for SEO, the difficulty resides in creating content that, on the one hand, corresponds to keyword searches that generate traffic and, on the other hand, capture the visitors’ true intent and provide relevant answers. Your keyword research (for which you can use the Google Search Console) should reflect that.
To this end, SEO experts have several levers at their disposal, which they can activate by playing around with local queries, national Google searches, international traffic, frequently asked questions, or long-tail key expressions. An SEO strategy can also revolve around a semantic silo, with a “mother” page around which several “daughter” pages gravitate to explore the topic further.
Good to know: Video content has a great impact on SEO optimisation strategies. Did you know that, in 2022, 82 per cent of global Internet traffic involves video streaming or downloading?
UX – or User Experience – is at the very heart of Google’s objectives. The latest algorithm updates have consistently sought to improve this particular point. As far as SEO is concerned, it means that the weight of the (human) user is becoming increasingly prominent compared to that of GoogleBots.
Thus, some key elements need to be taken under consideration, including: making the pages easier to read (table of content, breadcrumb trail, aesthetically pleasing layout, consistent structure…), improving loading time (beyond 3 seconds, half of the traffic is lost), offering a responsive site (to appeal to the increasing proportion of mobile Internet users), and limiting invasive pop-ups and ads.
Good to know: Offering intuitive browsing, optimizing your internal linking, and opting for a snappy responsive design for your website is a great way to combine UX with SEO.
Why Are Long-Term Strategies Best for SEO?
Position 0 on Specific Queries
An SEO optimisation strategy can target position 0 – which is the one at the very top of a Google result page. Over the years, the search engine has been changing the rules of how it ranks its results. At this point, it showcases the answers it considers to be the most relevant based on the question being asked. This can take the form of a text, a paragraph, or even a list, a video, a comparative table, etc.
Good to know: Aiming for a position 0 only makes sense if you are targeting specific queries with a clearly identified question.
Long Tail: An Approach Based on Quality and Relevance
A long-tail search engine optimisation strategy is a long-term endeavour. Here, the goal is to attract visitors based on a specific query. There will be fewer of them, but they will be much more qualified. Long tail expressions are characterized by a string of 3-4 keywords, making up a keyword “tail”. For example, instead of ranking for the phrase “coat”, which is highly competitive, you could work on ranking for “Where can I find a waterproof sailor’s coat?” to have a better chance of selling your yellow rain jackets!
Good to know: In the context of a website optimisation strategy, there is a distinction to be made between the generic term “coat”, the specific phrase “sailor’s coat”, and the long-tail expression “Where can I find a waterproof sailor’s coat?”
Link Building, the “Referral” Benefit
Finally, a good SEO optimisation strategy should rely on link building – which means having a set of links that point from other websites towards your own. This exercise consists in gaining referrals from external websites, thus boosting your authority within your area of expertise. Ranked by Google on a scale of 1 to 100, these referrals – or recommendations – directly reflect the quality of your website as far as the search engine is concerned.
Which means that it’s all about finding quality sites within your niche, with authority on the subject matter, and to vary how frequently they link to you, as well as the anchors (link texts) being used. Building numerous poor-quality links from irrelevant sites is considered a black hat practice, and the effect of this approach on your SEO marketing is very unlikely to be positive. You should always favour white hat SEO at all costs.
Good to know: Beyond backlinks, a search engine optimisation strategy should focus on the quality of the website’s internal link building (on page SEO, or on site SEO). This keeps the visitors from leaving the site, prompting them to go from page to page, towards more high-value content that will allow them to delve even deeper into the topic they’re interested in.
Google is constantly evolving, ever questioning its own results to make them more relevant. That is why the best advice you might receive is to invest in the background work that will mitigate the risk of suddenly dropping down the results. Generally speaking, adopting search engine optimisation practices that focus on the visitor (with high-quality, optimized content published on a regular basis) means you can limit the risks of seeing a future algorithm update completely overturn your results. A long-term strategy guarantees a more secure investment…