There’s no way around it: if you want a high-impact business that delivers results, you need to have a search strategy.
“But I already have one,” we hear you say. The thing is, even the most polished approach needs reviewing and updating. This can be challenging, as there are multiple factors to consider, and the number of techniques and tools can be overwhelming.
We suggest you take one step at a time with our guide to leveling up your search strategy.
Now is the time to level up your SEO – here’s why
The times they are a-changin’
SEO is closely linked to consumer needs, so it’s only logical to expect that the techniques used to position your site online also evolve to reflect that.
Recent events (such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the following economic slowdown) have profoundly impacted consumer behavior. For example, “near me” searches spiked during lockdowns as consumers searched for companies offering products and services in their local area. Businesses that focused on local SEO were able to leverage the opportunity to reach new audiences.
A competitive advantage
According to a Pollfish survey, in 2022, nearly 60% of North American small to medium-sized businesses don’t have a defined search strategy.
There are two ways to read this:
- 60% of businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity.
- 40% of companies have a chance to capitalize on this and turn their search strategy into a way to differentiate themselves from competitors.
Changes to data protection regulations (such as the implementation of GDPR) significantly impact search strategy. Unfortunately, compliance is still a work in progress for some businesses, which means opportunities are lost in the process.
How to step up your search strategy
Despite the shifts described, one thing hasn’t changed. Organic searches account for more than 50% of website traffic.
If you want SEO to work, you have to do two things:
- Keep consumer needs in mind.
- Feed search engines with quality content in a format that will rank.
To do this, you must be familiar with the following fundamentals and take steps to execute them:
- Start with an SEO audit. You need to know where you are in order to get somewhere.
- Ensure your site performs well on the technical front and delivers a great user experience. There’s no point in investing time and effort into search strategy if pages load slowly or your site is hard to navigate because the audience will leave within seconds. Five seconds is all it takes for bounce rates to increase by 90%.
- Define meaningful KPIs. There are dozens of them, but don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.
- Choose your keywords strategically. This means accounting for user intent; what users want to find is not necessarily what they type in the search box. Also, understand which keywords are worth vying for based on search volume and competitiveness.
- Diversify your keyword strategy. Don’t repeat keywords until the text sounds as if robots wrote it. Instead, add related key phrases, long-tail keywords, and keywords that target customer needs at different sales funnel stages, from awareness to post-purchase.
- Don’t go all in by trying to optimize every single page on your website. Some pages are more valuable than others, depending on your particular goals at any given point. Sometimes it’ll be more valuable to optimize your blog, and other times you’ll want to focus on your landing page.
- Systematically track, document, and measure SEO performance. Access to reliable analytics and reports can pinpoint underperforming areas and offer insights that support confident decision-making. Establish this process, and you’ll be able to make high-impact changes.
So far, we’ve covered the basics of a solid search strategy. The following steps will dive a little deeper into how to better optimize your SEO efforts. Let’s see how.
1. It’s all about strategy
We can’t stress it enough, even if we risk sounding redundant: Leveling up your SEO requires a heavy focus on your strategy. By this, we mean taking a global approach instead of viewing SEO as a separate part of your business.
How do you do that? Find optimal alignment between commercial and search strategy. Any business insights that come from your market assessment or a SWOT analysis must be translated into actionable SEO tactics.
2. Dive deep into mobile SEO
Since 2020, Google has been applying a mobile-first indexing approach. This means that the search engine primarily uses the mobile version of a site for indexing and ranking purposes.
The impact of this change on SEO is noticeable for sites that don’t have a dedicated mobile version, which can negatively affect rankings. In such cases, Google will likely deem the site as offering a substandard user experience.
If you haven’t done so yet, shift your attention to the mobile version of your site, ensuring that content, media and metadata are just as polished on mobile as on desktop. This testing tool is an excellent place to start.
3. Video content
Relevant content is the cornerstone of SEO. But content is more than just text. In 2022, search engines are prioritizing video content in response to the changing preferences of Internet users.
There’s an increasing expectation that businesses will feature video content on their websites. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling; video has the intrinsic ability to engage and captivate your audience.
Video content doesn’t only entertain your audience. The goal of any search strategy is to deliver tangible results, and video content is the extra touch your strategy needs, as it’s proven to impact decision-making and purchasing behavior.
The opportunities to incorporate video content are plenty: from explainer or demo videos to teasers or testimonials, they can elevate your search strategy.
4. Ramp up site security
We’ll finish off with a preventative measure. As cyber-criminals become more sophisticated in their tactics, websites become more vulnerable to security breaches.
This can damage your reputation and cause financial losses. Beyond that, poor website security doesn’t take long to translate into lower rankings. If a potential customer doubts that your website is secure, there’s an 80% chance they will leave.
Search engines notice this and are likely to interpret it as evidence that your site doesn’t meet user expectations, so they may push it further down the results page – even if your content is relevant.
This can trigger a cycle of low trust and low rankings, which you can prevent by keeping your site compliant with current security best practices and always working with specialists in IT asset security.
A winning search strategy can catapult your business to success. Making this happen is an ongoing effort that requires getting the fundamentals right and building on that solid foundation to incorporate more advanced techniques. Following the tips in this guide can help ensure your search strategy pays off.
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.