If you haven’t experienced growth in your SEO traffic over the recent past, you may be asking yourself how you can correct that and start driving more results through SEO.
As you may know though, SEO has many components and can seem very overwhelming if you’re not an SEO expert.
Fortunately though, it doesn’t have to be. When SEO is focused down to its essence, it’s pretty simple and involves three main areas to consider:
- Technical SEO
When we focus on these core tenets of SEO, SEO actually becomes pretty clear.
And when something is clear, we can take action on it.
As an SEO, if my SEO traffic had been flat for a while then this is how I’d go about putting together an SEO action plan for my site for 2020 and beyond.
First, I would do an SEO site audit to uncover technical issues with the site that are standing in the way of rankings.
When you’re building a car you start with the frame. If that frame is compromised in any way, then the car is going to be unsafe to drive and a hazard to everyone around. You probably shouldn’t buy that car.
When you’re building a website you start with the technical structure. If that is shoddy or built in a way that can’t be accessed by search engines, then you’re going to have a hard time ranking.
Luckily, many (though not all) of the website builders and common content management systems out there these days do pretty well for SEO. They all have their own intricacies and gotchas, which are pretty well documented around the internet already, but the point is that many of them are already quite good.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have other technical opportunities. As an example, WordPress is pretty well built for SEO but there can be some crazy things going on with WordPress sites like out of control tag pages, indexed multiple versions of images, file bloat from a lot of plugins, and a lot more.
A good technical SEO audit that informs your SEO strategy for the next year is a great investment if you haven’t had one done in the last 6-12 months.
As a point of note, I audit the Credo site every 3-6 months because sites change and issues can pop up that you were not even aware were becoming an issue.
Next, content has become a bigger factor in SEO over the years and I expect will only increase in its weight as well. As the search engines move towards defining entities (people, companies, etc) and learning what topics that company/person is related to, content is the start to encouraging those connections and targeting what your potential customers are already searching for.
If my site had been flat with organic traffic for a while, I would look at if I have the right pages on my site to rank for the terms I deserve to rank for.
- Product pages, such as features pages, targeting conversion-oriented terms;
- Content pages, such as guides and how-tos, targeting questions my customers are asking (and then content to offer to them as a premium offering in exchange for their email)
We’ve covered on-page SEO before, so we won’t go in-depth here about structuring pages for optimal SEO rankings.
There are a few main ways to identify keywords you’re not already targeting, based of that you’re not ranking well.
Another way is to use Google Search Console to identify keywords you’re getting impressions for but not really driving traffic. I’d ignore average position because it’s not super helpful (instead I see my rankings for those terms in SEMrush once I’ve narrowed down the list), but instead sort by impressions.
I like to use SanityCheck.io for this, and they merchandise these keywords in the Long Tail Keyword Ideas report:
Once you have this list you can define the following for each term before creating the content:
- Type of page (product / editorial)
- Ideal length of content
Then you can decide whether it should be written in-house or if it could be outsourced. A good way to think about this is that product/conversion oriented pages are usually best written in-house at least at first, and editorial content can often be outsourced to an agency.
Finally, if I’ve already had an SEO audit done and been implementing those changes and I’ve already been doing keyword research and developing content and my organic traffic still is stubbornly refusing to budge, it is time to look at links.
Here’s a personal example. As someone who was trained as a web developer and loves to write, I have often under-invested in quality link building.
And this has been to our detriment. Here’s our organic growth chart from the last few years:
It’s much starker when you look year on year. Basically we’ve gone from being up ~10% year on year in May 2019 to being up 60.97% year on year in November. That’s massive for the business!
So if you’re like me and you’ve been investing in technical SEO (though no site is ever technically perfect) and been creating content targeting specific keywords, I encourage you to see if you are lagging behind your competitors in terms of raw links and link velocity of acquiring new links.
I do this once again with SEMrush and their Backlink Gap tool:
Now, a question I am sure to get is “well what kind of links should I build?”
And unfortunately like many answers in SEO, it depends what you’ve done previously.
For example, I’ve done a lot of speaking and podcasts and thought leadership type stuff over the last few years. By contributing to podcasts as a guest and to roundups as an expert, I have been able to build a lot of branded links to our homepage but not to many of my deeper pages.
So we’ve been concentrating on those major pages and seen great growth.
Your strategies will differ, but there is an example of one.
How else are you going about building a 2021 SEO strategy for your business or clients?