Meta SEO – Thoughts on Strategy and Tactics

Some thoughts on high level SEO approach

I enjoy thinking about SEO and how to be better at the practice, and how to articulate better the strategies and tactics needed for a "successful" SEO campaign.

Here are some thoughts in no particular order.

This post is for folks that already understand some basic SEO strategies and tactics. If you want to learn about SEO or get a basic overview Check out SEO Basics.

SEO requires strategy, with tactics that support

Over the last two years, I have asked people if SEO is "just updating web pages" or "just using keywords," and the answer is "Not just those elements." Then I try to get in a short explanation of what elements impact SEO and eventually try to lead the conversation towards getting people to think about the strategy.

It would be like saying driving a car is about the gas and brakes or not hitting other cars. These actions/tactics are part of the driving strategy, but any of these single tasks are not an accurate description of driving.

So what are some SEO strategies?

Here are some relatively common SEO strategies and the tactics that go with them.

  1. Improve existing ranks: You have a unique keyword list based on the content on your site. Leverage your existing ranks and positions, optimize pages and create content around improving those ranks.
    1. Tactic: Page-level optimization. Make sure you have a focused keyword and use this word in critical places with the proper density and emphasis.
    2. Tactic: Promote your content through social media or other online channels to improve traffic to the page and insight backlinks to the content.
    3. Tactic: Long tail keyword utilization. Use an extended keyword version of a shorter character length keyword that you want to rank. The smaller word should be embedded in the keyword phrase, and as you gain ranks for the more important word, you can build out content around smaller versions till you get to the keyword itself.
  2. Gain ranks for words you don't already rank for:  The goal here is to rank for new terms that are not on your website, or are so far back in the rankings, that it takes the same effort to improve those.
    1. Tactic: Build a keyword list from pulling data on your competitors, search volumes, industry sites, etc. You need to know which words you want to pursue and put these into your content creation strategy.
    2. Tactic: Use these words in your website and create content around these keywords.
    3. Tactic: Use these keywords in your existing content. Make sure these new keywords have some alignment with the marketing efforts. Just cause you want to rank for a word, it has to fit your broader marketing strategy.
  3.  Improve conversion rates for existing traffic: Do you already have the ranks, but your not seeing the traffic? It could be the words you ranked for has a misaligned intent Ex: You are a commercial painter, and you rank #1 for "How to Paint a Fence." People using this word are probably looking for how to do it themselves versus hiring a painter. Ranking for something like "How to higher a fence painter" shows better intent. This person wants to know how to higher someone to do the job for them.
    1. Tactic: Improve the title and meta description for the page.
    2. Tactic: Reconsider which words you want to rank. Review your rankings and identify keywords with the intent that aligns with your offering.
    3. Tactic: Leverage the traffic to the page to get people to the right place. In the example above, you could have a link on the page asking, "Need someone to paint for you?" and then a link to another page that solicits them.
  4. Buddy up to a competitor:  Your website is not the only website on the internet. There are competing sites. Try to SEO your site to rank next to your competitors.
    1. Tactic: Examine their keyword rankings, and leverage this data for your efforts.
    2. Tactic: Review their backlinks. What sites link to them, and are there common themes to help you build out content that could warrant similar links?
    3. Tactic: Look for substitute products/services and compete with those competitors. Ex: You sell coffee. You could review competitors in the "beverage" market and see if there are opportunities to build your brand as an alternative to Tea, Juices, etc.
  5. Build your content with better User Experience: This one is for people developing content where keywords are created almost daily. Ex: Crypto space, technology, NFTs, etc.
    1. Tactic: Build branded content with words and phrases that are new and unique. This content should be informative and engaging.
    2. Tactic: COdify your language around how you talk about your service, how you deliver your services, and the results. Use a standard language that could build into ranks for words not customarily used or associated with your industry.
    3. Tactic:  Focus not on the product but on the experience and the result of using your product or service. If you sell therapy services, try content around the peace of mind, joy, or relief people experience after therapy.

Something else to consider

With all of these strategies and tactics, you should have a few safeguards in place:

  1. Content should have a target audience and business use.
  2. What are you doing with the traffic if you succeed at a strategy?
  3. How are you tracking the energy and effort into these strategies?
  4. What is the expected ROI from these efforts?
  5. No one strategy will be the silver bullet for SEO efforts; test and measure efforts.

If you want to learn more about SEO, please check out the following pages.