Typically, SEO follows these steps:
1. Site Audit and Technical Fixes
First off, you will want to make sure your site has the right foundation for further work. I like to check at least for the following:
- CMS setup
- Site and URL structure
- Loading times
- Backlink profile (do you have getting spammy or quality links?)
- Internal link issues
- Mobile responsiveness
- Index tags like cannonical and no-index tags
- Schema markups
- Penalty checks
- Site security, blacklisting and HTTPs
And many other elements which influence your technical SEO.
You can engage SEO specialists (like an agency) to do this on your behalf or use some SEO tools. Personally, I find SEO tools to often be faulty or overall less thorough that doing an audit by hand. These tools, however, are essential in aiding a manual check.
2. Keyword Strategy
Once an audit has been completed and changes are implemented, you will need to devise a content strategy.
Typically a keyword strategy requires specialist experience and takes into account:
- Your ranking objectives for certain terms or services
- The relevant keywords associated to the above and your business
- The level of competition for these keywords
To create a list of topics which you can create content to attract rankings.
The most basic approach here is to choose to create content for just the most useful phrases (high user intent + traffic). However, these topics will be the most competitive meaning that it will be more difficult for your page to rank for that topic.
A simple strategy to accommodate this is to then focus on multiple middle and ‘long tail’ articles, which have lower competition.
Another common priortisation method is to work from the bottom of the funnel upwards. This means starting on the most important, ‘high intent’ keyword searches and working your way up to more general but still relevant searches.
The goal here is that the culmination of traffic from these keywords will provide a better return on investment than competing for highly sought after terms.
A more advanced strategy still is to tackle both high competition keywords and long tail keywords through the use of Pillar Articles and Supporting Articles.
What are Pillar Articles?
Pillar pages are content heavy pages (4000+ words) with in-depth information and analysis, designed to contest high competition keywords.
These are often on the most valuable topics that multiple organisations are trying to rank for at the same time.
What are Supporting Articles?
Supporting articles are designed to answer long-tail keywords or topics.
These articles give you the benefit of ranking for lower competition keywords. Meanwhile, these articles can also support your pillar articles by linking back to them and driving traffic towards the main topic.
Where to Source Keywords?
Keywords can be sourced from generating your own list of relevant terms, researching competitor’s ranking keywords and analyise their level of competition.
- Google Keyword Planner for keyword ideas (free)
- Ubersuggest for keyword ideas (free)
- The Hoth’s Keyword Rank Checker for competitor rankings (free)
- SEMRush for determining competition levels for keywords (paid)
Using the above, you will be able to devise your keyword strategy with a list of keywords/topics for both pillar and support articles.
Developing your Keyword Strategy:
Again, the SEO specialist or agency will be able to develop a compelling keyword strategy for you after having completed your site audit and initial optimisations.
3. Content Writing and Development
With the topics now selected, you can now begin writing and posting your content. Content creation can be completed in-house or by specialist content writers and SEO agencies.
Content must be SEO optimised, however, and this includes:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions (to increase click throughs)
- Images with proper descriptions
- Images with alt tags
This element of SEO is relatively straightforward compared to other steps.
4. Content Promotion and Link Building
Posting content will start to bring some organic traffic over time. However, don’t leave it to chance. Promote your content to your email list and look to build tasteful links back to your pages from quality sites (known as link building) as this has been shown to be a major determining factor for increasing the rankings of your content.
Link building is often a time intensive process and can be outsourced to contractors, however rates for a single quality link start from $150.