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Three key steps to ensure SEO success

Google search
(Image credit: Shutterstock / HaseHoch2)

Have you ever heard a professional speaker pitch their audience on tricks and tips to “get rich quick” or “shred weight fast”? The thing about pitches such as these is that they are designed in a particular way to capture the attention of the audience, engage with them to maintain that attention, and ultimately, hit them with the “true” ask or pitch at the end.

The thing is, after the audience has already been sold, many members of that audience realize that there is no “quick” or “fast” way to achieve the goals they want – at least, not without putting in the hard work. The space of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no different.

Though there are numerous ways for businesses and brands to approach their SEO strategy, every one of them does so with the end goal of improving their digital presence and increasing their reach to potential customers, customers, or sponsors. In this article, I want to highlight the three most important points any brand will need to cover to ensure its SEO strategy is successful.

About the author

Steve Wiideman is an SEO expert and founder of Wiideman Consulting Group

Understanding search engine platforms for optimization

Before your business or brand can begin optimizing your SEO strategy for success, you need to understand both your target audience, as well as the behavioral patterns of that audience. This means asking questions such as:

  • Does our audience primarily use and/or experience our brand/products/service through desktop searches or mobile searches?
  • What kinds of questions does the audience ask when they search for us?
  • What sorts of digital content does our audience expect or want to see from us?
  • Is our online information up-to-date and 100-percent accurate?
  • Does our existing online information and content align with the message we want to deliver to our audience?

It is also important to remember that these questions should not be asked with a “one-size-fits-all” perspective in regard to your SEO strategy. This is because your target audience will not only use search engines to find your business’s or brand’s content. These questions and others like them should also be asked to help optimize your digital presence on other platforms such as:

  • Mobile app stores
  • Video hosting platforms (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo)
  • Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
  • Third-party platforms (e.g. Amazon, Yelp)

The overall goal of understanding the multitudes of search platforms is to maximize visibility for your brand and the products or services you offer to your target audience. By optimizing your brand’s presence and content across each of these platforms, you can begin optimizing a strategy that not only improves your SEO performance, but also improves the search experience for your customers.

Understand your content is meant for people first

It can sometimes be easy to forget that the digital presence our brands have and the way they present themselves online are ultimately meant for people, not search engines themselves. As such, the overarching goal for any SEO strategy is to maximize your brand’s reach through SEO in order to increase consumer traffic and engagement.

The goal here is to create content that targets customers, not search engines. If you’re wondering how that can be done, here are a few steps to help get you started:

  • Understand the context of how and why customers search for your brand
  • Identify three-to-five, specific keywords, as well as a few other long-form keywords (i.e., phrases) that customers would use in searching for your brand or products
  • Through customer context and common keywords, understand the intent of the keywords you have selected to use in your SEO rankings

For example, if your brand is viewed by customers as a source of information or data, such as a weekly newsletter, using a few extra shorter keywords (e.g., “email marketing”) may help improve your web pages appear higher in search queries by customers as they help answer the questions customers search for.

However, if your brand is a digital marketing agency with the goal to improve your digital transaction rates, you may want to use longer and more specific keywords (e.g., “cross-channel enterprise marketing channels”) to improve your rankings, which will lead to increased traffic to your content and improving your chances at achieving higher transaction rates.

The goal of this step is simple: give your target audience what they want. This can be achieved through generating high-quality written copy, visual content, such as easy-to-read infographics, and ensuring both are mobile-device-friendly with your SEO strategy.

Optimize your content, data and resources

The final step in ensuring success for your brand’s SEO strategy lies in one word: content.

Without content – be it written, visual, or otherwise – your brand has no leverage insofar as what it has to offer to your target audience or customers, and your brand will have virtually zero visibility online or in the digital spaces you seek to gain a spot in.

Here are a few quick questions you can ask to make sure that the content your brand publishes and distributes to your target audience is optimized for SEO:

  • Is our existing content accurate in its messaging and product/service descriptions to our target audience?
  • What can we find from Google’s “people also ask” or “related searches” features to improve the effectiveness of our content?
  • Have we addressed any prior issues related to customer service, feedback, and/or engagement? If not, how can we improve our content in order to best address and remedy these issues in the future?
  • Have we audited our existing digital content to ensure it meets or exceeds the quality of our competitors?
  • Is our content optimized for mobile-friendly searches, devices, and users?

Once you have asked and answered these questions, you can begin optimizing your online content, data, and resources to improve both your SEO rankings as well as the customer experience.

A few ways to begin this process include:

  • Optimizing titles to each page of your website, including URL descriptions
  • Keep your value proposition highlighted and front-and-center
  • Use internal links that take users and search engine spiders from one page to another within your website
  • If applicable, include external links to relevant third-party websites or content to enhance your brand’s position and expertise

A few more advanced tasks may include:

  • Working with your webmaster to address Google's "Core Vitals" and PageSpeed requirements
  • Adding structured markup (schema.org) to all applicable web pages and elements within web pages, such as business information, ratings, videos, and images
  • Improving the mobile experience to search engine standards, with an end goal of providing an experience that requires a few taps of the thumb to complete any action

With these three main steps complete, your business or brand should be well on its way to ensuring success for your SEO strategy in the weeks and months to come.