Back to Basics: Our Approach to SEO
Over the last decade, digital marketing has become a complex space with a myriad of information, tools and applications readily available at our fingertips.
As a data-led agency, we know that these are undoubtedly invaluable resources. But we also recognise how easy it is to become bogged down by the sheer quantity of resources. At times, this can lead to analysis paralysis, slow decision making and an unclear strategy. The result? A negative impact on performance and growth potential. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
A successful SEO campaign relies on doing the simple things well such as:
- Understanding your goals
- Thorough market analysis
- Quality keyword research
- Excellent content
- A structured link building strategy
With a continuous focus on these key SEO elements, you’ll have a much better chance of improving rankings, increasing visibility, growing traffic and achieving more revenue. Here’s what a back-to-basics approach to SEO involves…
Every campaign should begin with research. As part of this research, it’s important to consider your audience, how they Google and the language they use to find the services and products you offer.
Let’s take a snapshot of keyword research as an example. If a campaign focused on selling used cars, we can see that monthly search volume for ‘used cars’ is significantly higher than ‘second hand cars’.
According to Google, it has been this way for the last five years and shows little sign of changing.
In this case, the key phrase ‘used cars’ would form the backbone of the campaign influencing technical and content production as well as link building. With this in mind, we can then create a bespoke list of campaign keywords to form an effective keyword strategy. This allows us to understand the size and scope of your market, track organic performance and begin formulating a strategy to improve organic rankings.
When used in conjunction with competitor analysis, we can reveal weaknesses and strengths of your domain against competitors in relation to these keywords. Something we’ve invested time into creating, we can do all this with ease using our in-house developed competitor analysis tool.
If you rank below your current competitors, our tool can reveal whether it’s technical, content or links that are holding you back before focusing on the appropriate areas to make improvements.
Next comes the technical phase which evaluates the technical performance of your site from an SEO perspective. While the technical aspects of SEO can seem daunting, the primary focus for most campaigns revolves around optimised meta data and website structure.
Meta data serves two functions in particular:
- It signals to Google what your page does
- It tells Google the information it contains
Your meta data should focus on a handful of key phrases that best represent the page, while also considering the monthly search volume each keyword achieves.
Using our earlier example, an optimised title tag for a used car page based on keyword research would look something like this.
|Search Term||Search Volume||Title Tag|
|Used Cars Used Cars for Sale Used Car Dealerships||110,000 110,000 27,100||Used Cars For Sale | Used Car Dealership|
Website structure refers to the hierarchy and relationship between the pages of your website. Broadly, this involves having a comprehensive navigation and internal linking structure in place.
By implementing a carefully considered website structure, your pages will be much easier for search engines to find, meaning Google can crawl and update your rankings on a regular basis. This can result in better rankings and higher traffic.
Optimisations of these two areas usually yield the best and fastest results. Once they’ve been improved, we move onto considering other areas of technical SEO such as core web vitals and page speed.
Content, and more specifically, good quality content should be a vital part of any SEO campaign.
Well-written, relevant and in-depth content is a way of providing genuine value to potential customers about the products and services you offer. While ‘good’ content isn’t necessarily a measurable metric, there are ways to enhance your content’s ability to rank and draw organic traffic:
Subject matter and keywords
The subject of your content should be based on audience interest and keyword research. The keywords you define throughout your research should also be present throughout the content to ensure your pages are ranking for relevant search terms.
The approach to this can differ slightly depending on the purpose of your page. For example:
- If it’s a commercial landing page for the purpose of advertising ‘used cars’, you should focus on the commercial language that customers use during this stage of their shopping journey.
- If it’s query focused such as a blog article, for example ‘what to look for when buying a used car’, you should focus on using keywords where relevant and answering questions users may have.
Create EAT content
Last year, Google gave us three core updates in 2021, one of which covered how the search engine uses and ranks content. As part of this, it refined the notorious EAT update and highlighted the significance it still holds when it comes to content.
As a business operating in today’s digital world, you need to create high quality, relevant content that brings value to the reader. This involves covering the three areas of EAT:
- Expertise: Provide detailed, high-quality information
- Authority: Show why you have knowledge of the topic and use links to build authority
- Trust: Highlight the validity of the write and sources as well as showcasing testimonials where relevant
Consider content depth
Aim for your content to be proportionate in length, depth and descriptiveness to your competitors. However, it’s important to ensure that every word of your content is worthwhile and relevant to include. There’s no point having an 1,800-word article that features 1,000 words of irrelevant, unhelpful information as this will not support successful completion of your content goals.
Is it easy to read?
Your content should be easy to read when it comes to language and structure. Relatively short, easily digestible paragraphs with clear headings are ideal for helping your audience skim your content to pick out the information they need.
The Flesch readability score is a common tool used to improve the readability of content. It’s worth noting that studies have shown optimising your content’s Flesch readability score doesn’t directly impact rankings, but it can improve other factors that are essential to search engine ranking criteria.
Using a scoring system like Flesch is a good extra step after proofreading that ensures your writing is as clear as possible. The grade you should aim for depends on your intended audience. If your audience is the general public, you should aim for grade 8 which is equivalent to age 13 to 14.
Have you used your links?
To enhance the crawlability of your pages, internal linking should be used throughout. Remember to ensure that all links are relevant to the content and point to a page that will be useful for your readers.
While less tangible than content and technical SEO, link building is one of the most valuable parts of any SEO campaign.
A link profile helps to decipher the quality of sources linked to. In essence, a page with more high-quality links signals to Google that your website is more valuable to the users and therefore should rank higher.
Some compare this approach to the model of academic referencing. For example, if a highly regarded Oxbridge academic that cites thesis, the cited thesis is deemed by the academic community to have an intrinsically higher value than it did before the citation. Similarly, if a highly regarded website cites your website by linking to it, the Google algorithm deems your website to be ‘of higher’ value and therefore pushes it further up the rankings.
Most sites have links built into them naturally. However, in most cases, the link profile is usually smaller and less targeted towards the more commercial pages. As part of an SEO campaign, we identify these pages and point relevant links towards them to make them more authoritative. Over the course of a campaign, we would expect to see a rise in the ‘page authority’ metric provided by Moz which signals a greater ability for a page to rank.
Keep it simple
There’s something to be said for keeping it simple. Even though we have a team of technical minded SEO experts in our ranks capable of dealing with complex campaigns, we follow a proven process. Considering the research, content, technical SEO and authority building tactics, we can build a tailormade strategy designed to achieve your goals. To find out more about how we can grow your online presence with our SEO services, get in touch.