How to Create an SEO Strategy for 2021 [Template Included]

Here’s a cliché among digital marketers: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer what it used to be.

Here’s a true statement that you don’t hear that often: Your 2021 SEO strategy shouldn’t focus on keywords.

Most companies today understand the basic concepts of SEO and why it matters.

However, when it comes to developing and executing a solid SEO strategy for your business, it is both tedious and wrong to just create content for the keywords your customers are looking for.

In this post, we explain what an SEO strategy is and how to create your own to achieve your content marketing goals.

What is an SEO Strategy?

An SEO strategy is the process of organizing the content of a website by topic to make it more likely to appear in search results. Essentially, this is the process that you follow in order to maximize your chance of getting organic traffic from search engines.

Having an SEO strategy is important as it will keep you on track as you create content. Rather than just creating what you think people are looking for, your strategy makes sure you create content that people are looking for.

For content marketing, an SEO strategy is a crucial piece of the puzzle as it is the primary way your content will appear in the first place, especially on search engine results pages (SERPs). When your content is scattered and disorganized, search engine bots have a harder time indexing your website, identifying your area of ​​authority, and rating your website pages.

Mobile SEO strategy

Mobile SEO is an important factor to consider when creating your overall strategy. Mobile optimization is about ensuring that your website and website content are available and accessible to visitors on mobile devices so that they can have the same experience and value as desktop browsers.

Mobile device optimization is incredibly important as Google practices mobile-first indexing. This means that instead of crawling a desktop site, the algorithm will use the mobile version of your site when indexing and ranking pages for SERPs. Additionally, 61% of Google searches in the US are performed on mobile devices. So all in all, your SEO strategy would be ineffective without prioritizing mobile optimization.

While not an entirely separate process, mobile search engine optimization has different considerations like monitoring page speed, responsive website design, local search engine optimization, and creating quality content no matter what device it is on are displayed.

What is an SEO?

Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) are people who optimize websites to rank higher on SERPs and get more organic traffic. In essence, an SEO is a highly specialized content strategist who helps a company discover ways to answer questions that people have about their particular industry.

There are three types of SEO that an SEO strategist can focus on:

    • On-Page SEO: This SEO focuses on the content that is actually on the pages of the website and how it can be optimized to improve the ranking of the website for certain keywords.
    • Off-Page SEO: This SEO focuses on links directed to the website from other places on the internet. A website’s number of backlinks from reputable sources will help you build confidence in search algorithms.
    • Technical search engine optimization: This search engine optimization focuses on the backend architecture of a website, e.g. B. on the website code. Google takes care of the technical setup as well as the content. Therefore this position is important for the ranking.

Remember that every company has different goals. Therefore, it is the job of search engine optimization to research their industry, determine what interests their target audiences, and develop a strategy that will give them what they are looking for.

Below are a few steps you can take to ensure that your SEO strategy gets you on the road to success.

SEO content strategy

  1. Make a list of topics.
  2. Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics.
  3. Create pages for each topic.
  4. Set up a blog.
  5. Create a consistent blogging schedule.
  6. Create a link building plan.
  7. Compress media files before uploading them to your site.
  8. Stay up to date with SEO news and best practices.
  9. Measure and track the success of your content.

1. Make a list of topics.

Keywords are at the heart of SEO, but they are no longer the first step in achieving organic growth. Instead, the first step is to make a list of the topics you want your content to address.

First, make a list of around 10 words and terms associated with your product or service. Use an SEO tool (Google’s Keyword Tool, Ahrefs, SEMRush, or GrowthBar, to name a few) to research these words, identify their search volume, and find variations that make sense for your business.

This way, you are linking these topics to popular short-tail keywords, but not devoting individual blog posts to those keywords. Let’s walk through an example of this process using the image below.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool screenshot resized to 600

For example, let’s say a swimming pool company is trying to rank “fiberglass pools” that receive 110,000 searches a month. This short-tail keyword can be the overarching topic for creating the content. However, the company must also identify a number of related keywords to include in the content. For example, they might choose to use “fiber pool prices” or “fiber pool costs” to get additional rankings for the overall fiber pool keyword.

Using search volume and competition as a measure, you can create a list of 10 to 15 short-tail keywords that are relevant to your business and that your target audiences are looking for. Then arrange this list according to the monthly search volume.

Each of the keywords you have identified are called pillars and serve as the primary support for a larger group of long-tail keywords that are discussed below.

2. Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics.

In this step you optimize your pages for certain keywords. For each column you’ve identified, use your keyword tool to identify five to ten long-tail keywords that dig deeper into the original topic keyword.

For example, we regularly create content on SEO, but it’s difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic with this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that all target the exact same keyword – and possibly the same SERPs. For this reason, we also create content for conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you are currently reading) and other sub-topics within the SEO umbrella organization.

This helps companies attract people with different interests and concerns – and ultimately creates more entry points for people who are interested in your offerings.

Use your long-tail keywords to create blog posts or web pages that explain the specific topics in the pillars you choose. Together, all of your long-tail keywords form a cluster around a columnar topic. Search engine algorithms depend on the relationships between clusters to connect users to the information they are looking for.

Here is a short video on the concept:

Think of it this way: the more specific your content, the more specific the needs of your target audience can be and the more likely you are to convert that traffic into leads. That way, Google finds value in the websites it crawls. The pages that deal with the inner workings of a general topic are considered the best answer to a person’s query and rank higher.

3. Create pages for each topic.

When it comes to websites and search engine ranking, it can be next to impossible to rank a page for a handful of keywords. But this is where the rubber meets the road.

Use the pillar topics you created to create a page or post that provides a general overview of the topic. To do this, use the long-tail keywords you created in step 2 for each cluster. These columnar pages can essentially be a table of contents where you provide a description of the main topic and inform readers of subtopics that you elaborate on in other posts.

Ultimately, the number of topics you create column pages for should match your business needs, such as: B. the number of products and offers you have. This makes it a lot easier for your prospects and customers to find you on search engines, regardless of what keywords they are using.

4. Set up a blog.

Blogging can be an incredible way to rank on keywords and engage your website’s users. After all, every blog post is a new website and an additional opportunity to rank in SERPs. If your company doesn’t already have a blog, consider creating one.

As you write every blog post and expand your clusters, there are three things you should do:

  1. Don’t include your long-tail keyword more than three or four times on the page as Google doesn’t consider exact keyword matches as often as it used to. In fact, too many instances of your keyword can be a red flag for search engines that you fill in with keywords to get rankings, and they will penalize you for it.
  2. Second, always link to the column page that you created for your topics. You can do this in the form of tags in your content management system (CMS) or as basic anchor text in the body of the article.
  3. When you’ve published each blog post, link it on the page of the parent pillar that supports the subtopic. By connecting both the pillar and cluster in this way, you are telling Google that there is a relationship between the long-tail keyword and the high-level topic that you want to rank.

5. Create a consistent blogging schedule.

Every blog post or website you create doesn’t necessarily have to belong to a topic cluster. It is also valuable to write on tangential topics that are important to your customers in order to build authority with Google’s algorithms.

With that in mind, it’s important to blog at least once a week. Remember that you are blogging primarily for your target audience, not search engines. So, study your target market and write about things that they are interested in.

It can be helpful to create a content strategy to stay consistent and focus on your goals.

6. Create a link building plan.

The Topic Cluster Model is your path to search engine optimization, but it’s not the only way to get your website content ranked higher after it’s created.

While our first five steps were dedicated to on-page SEO, link building is the primary goal of off-page SEO. When building links, incoming links (also known as backlinks) are lured to your website from other sources on the Internet. Typically, websites with more authority that reference your content will have a greater impact on your rankings.

Take some time to brainstorm the different ways you can attract inbound links. Maybe you start out by sharing links with local businesses to get links to their own websites, or you can write a few blog posts and share them on various social media platforms. You can also reach out to other blogs for guest blogging opportunities that will allow you to link back to your website.

7. Compress media files before uploading them to your site.

This is a small but important step in the SEO process, especially for mobile optimization.

As your blog or website grows, there will no doubt be more images, videos, and related media to support your content. These visual elements help get your visitors’ attention, but it’s easy to forget that these files can be huge. Since page speed is a crucial ranking factor, it is important to monitor the size of the media files that you upload to your website.

The larger the file, the more difficult it is for an internet browser to render your website. These images are also more difficult for mobile browsers to load as the bandwidth on their devices is significantly less. The smaller the file size, the faster your website will load. But how do you compress images and still keep the quality?

It is worth considering using a compression tool to reduce file size before uploading images, videos, and gifs. Sites like TinyPNG compress images in bulk, while Google’s Squoosh can shrink image files to microscopic sizes. Regardless of how you compress your media, a good rule of thumb is to keep files in the kilobyte (KB) range.

8. Stay up to date on SEO news and best practices.

Just like in marketing, the search engine landscape is also constantly evolving. Keeping up with current trends and best practices is an important strategy. There are several online resources that can help you with this. Here are some resources to check out:

9. Measure and track the success of your content.

SEO can take a lot of time and effort. This is why you want to know if your strategy is working. It is important to track your metrics to understand the success of your overall process and identify potential areas for improvement.

You can monitor organic traffic using your favorite web analytics tool or create your own dashboard using Excel or Google Sheets. By tracking indexed pages, conversions, ROI and your rankings on SERPs, you can see your success and identify areas of opportunity.

SEO process

Once you have your SEO strategy in place, you should also create a process to continue optimizing for new keywords and evolving search intent. Here are a few steps you can take.

1. Optimize your content historically.

Take some time each month to update old blog posts with new and current information and to continue ranking in SERPs. You can also use this time to add SEO best practices that weren’t originally covered, such as: B. Missing picture alt text.

2. Watch out for keyword changes and new search intentions.

After a few months, keep track of how your blog posts are ranking and what keywords they are ranking for. This can help you customize and copy sub-headings to take advantage of new search intent that your target audience may be interested in.

3. Add more editorial value to your old content.

Sometimes you will find that a post is completely out of date. In this scenario, you should go beyond the average historical SEO update and update it completely. You can do this by updating outdated information and statistics, adding new sections for additional depth, and adding quotes or original dates to drive more referral traffic to the post.

4. Create a monthly content plan.

To keep up with your SEO strategy, it can be helpful to create and refine a monthly content plan. You can put it in a spreadsheet and your teams can keep track of it accordingly. The following list is an example of a monthly content plan that incorporates the steps above.

SEO monthly plan

  1. Take the time to do keyword research related to your industry.
  2. List blog post ideas that use opportunistic keywords.
  3. Identify blog posts that can be updated or updated.
  4. Identify other SEO opportunities such as B. Vacation.
  5. List content ideas in a Search Insights report.
  6. Assign content to your team.
  7. Track the progress at the end of each month.

A monthly SEO plan like the one above, as well as a tracking document like a Search Insights report, can help you build and execute an efficient SEO strategy. You can also identify issues with little hanging fruit and use them to discuss them in relation to your industry.

Create a strategy that supports your business goals

Ranking on search pages can be difficult. While it may seem tempting to create content that focuses on high-traffic keywords, this strategy may not help you meet your business goals.

Instead, opt for an SEO strategy that can cater to your unique business needs, such as: B. the increase in customer acquisition in order to achieve greater marketing success. For more information on SEO, check out our Ultimate Guide to SEO.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2019, but updated in February 2020 to ensure consistency and freshness.

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