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Crafting the perfect SEO campaign
In order to run a successful SEO campaign, there are certain steps that must be taken. You can’t just hire someone and expect them to know what needs to be done. In this article, we will talk about the basics of running an effective SEO campaign so you can see for yourself if it is something your business should pursue.
1 - Research
SEO is similar to building a house, if the foundations are not in place you will end up with a house that is not sturdy. In order to create an effective SEO campaign, you must first research the goals of your business and what it needs for its marketing.
1.1 - Keyword Research
Start by using one of the many good quality keyword research tools (we recommend ahrefs free keyword tool). Start by entering the target keyword(s) that you would like to rank for, these are known as your ‘seed’ keywords in your SEO campaign.
This will also allow you to build a list of primary and secondary keywords that you want your website to appear for in the search results. You may even find some relevant long-tail keywords that you can include in your content.
Choosing keywords with a lower search volume (estimated number of monthly searches for that term) may seem silly, but by going after less competitive keywords you have a much stronger chance to see your keyword rankings improve for your website (once they are relevant keywords of course). As an example, we know the search term ‘SEO Limerick‘ has very few searches, but it’s an incredibly niche search term.
Don’t fall into the trap of using a keyword research tool that tells you to only target keywords based on their search volume. Proper keyword research takes time, but it is the most effective method of increasing your organic traffic via search engines.
1.2 - Search Intent
Once proper keyword research has been conducted, the next stage of running a successful SEO campaign is knowing exactly what is on page #1 of the Google rankings already to see if it is wise to try and rank for your desired keyword.
If you have an eCommerce product page you want to rank, but all of the page one listings are blog posts, Google has determined that what people want to see is blog posts about the product, not product pages where it can be bought. This is the ‘search intent’ of the keyword.
Google has years of data to help them determine the user intent of a keyword. For example, if you open a new tab and do a search for ‘tooth pain’, how many dentists appear? That’s right, none! It takes 2 seconds to discover the search intent for a keyword, yet many people don’t do it and are doomed for failure.
This is because, from all of the data that Google has gathered, they know users want to see content about how to get rid of tooth pain, and what causes it. A dentist is usually the last resort for many people.
1.3 - Realistic Ranking Goals
If your website is relatively new online, and the websites ranking on page one are all household names such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Pinterest, etc, your digital marketing team is not going to have an easy time ranking on page #1 with them, whether you have in house digital marketings or are working with a digital marketing agency.
If you are adamant that part of your digital marketing involves trying to achieve SEO rankings for highly competitive keywords, we’re not saying don’t do it, but it will take you a lot longer to reach that stage of success.
We would recommend starting with long-tail keywords in an example like this and gradually building your way up to eventually be able to rank for the seed keyword. You will actually see a much higher CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) by doing this in most cases.
Don’t go against the data. If a keyword is way out of your league to try and rank for, set your sights on something more achievable for now. You can always review the data at a later stage and come back to it.
2 - On-Page SEO
Now that the research is complete and we have found a.. it’s time to do some on-site optimization in order to further drive a successful SEO campaign. Your On-Page SEO is, well as you might have imagined, referring to elements of your website that are located on the page itself.
2.1 - Meta Information
Your Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions of each page of your website play a bigger role in SEO than most people realize. These are the first impressions of your website that potential visitors will see on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
This is where you really need to stand out from the crowd and ensure people that your website is the one they want to click on, not any of the others! This is where you are now increasing your CTR (Click Through Rate), which is what percentage of people who see you in the listing, actually click on you.
Most CMS (Content Management Systems) make it very easy to edit your Meta Title and Meta Description. If your website is running WordPress, you can install the free Yoast SEO plugin, which allows you to very easily edit your Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions and also see a preview of how your website appears in the organic search results.
If however your website is not running on WordPress and you’d like to see a preview of this section of your SEO campaign, a great SEO tool for seeing how your website will look in the search engine rankings is SERPsim. It is a tool loved by digital marketers as it allows you to see an element of your SEO campaign that others will also see (although it can be tricky not to be biased at this stage of your SEO strategy).
2.2 - Heading Tags
Heading tags (H Tags) are very important for search engine optimization. Your H1 tag is the biggest heading on your page, and it tells Google (and your website visitors) exactly what that page is about in just a few words.
Your heading tags are a perfect place to include some of your target keywords. They help to break up the content on the page so that it is easily consumable and even skimmed by users who prefer to do so.
The first time you introduce new information or thoughts, start with a heading tag. This will help your website visitors, and Google’s algorithm, know that this paragraph has additional content to its predecessor.
If you have a Q&A section on your page, you can include the questions as H2 or H3 heading tags, which is also a great opportunity to include some long-tail keywords within your SEO campaign. You can also then add FAQ Schema Markup to the page for even more real estate in the SERPs, but that is an advanced SEO technique and a topic for another day.
2.3 - Page Content
Here is where the fun really begins, you are at the stage where you need to create content that will appear to not only your target audience but also appease the search engine algorithms.
Writing the content (be it a landing page or a blog post) gives you an incredible opportunity to include all of your secondary keywords within your on-page optimization.
The beauty of writing content is that when you’ve sprinkled your keywords correctly throughout the page, it begins to then rank for multiple search terms within the search engines, driving even more organic traffic to your website.
It is important to use your primary keywords throughout your web pages but you need to be very careful not to overdo it and become guilty of keyword stuffing. Google doesn’t like this, and it can have a negative effect on your on-page SEO.
3 - Off-Page SEO
If your content is good enough, it will naturally begin attracting inbound links, which will help to boost your SEO rankings in Google and other search engines (such as Bing). However, you’ll need to drive the initial website traffic to it yourself, and link building is just what the doctor ordered.
3.1 - Referring Domains Required
This is a section that many SEO tools still haven’t seemed to fully crack yet when it comes to SEO analysis. Even though they reduce the time taken to discover what backlinks your competitors have, you still need to manually go in and examine each one in detail if you want to create an SEO campaign that will move the needle on your organic traffic.
We previously mentioned ahrefs above as a great keyword tool, but they are like a swiss-army knife to SEO professionals around the world as the data they provide for off-page SEO is truly incredible, so much so that we use it as our main off-page SEO tool.
One of the trickiest parts of running successful SEO campaigns is knowing exactly what links to build. We recommend looking at the referring domains to all of the websites currently in the top 10 positions (page #1) to check 2 main metrics – Relevancy and Authority.
If the link your competitor has obtained is not relevant to their site, you can almost disregard it entirely, as in most cases it is an auto-generated (in some cases spam) link. However if the link is relevant to them, the next thing to check is how authoritative are the people who linked to them. This is done by checking their DR (Domain Rating) on ahrefs, or by checking their DA (Domain Authority) on Moz.
3.2 - Quality Over Quantity Links
There are many link-building strategies that you can follow to build your off-page SEO. As mentioned above, the backlinks that you obtain need to be relevant, but those relevant links also need to be a DoFollow link so that they pass link juice (link equality) to your website.
There are essentially two types of links. A DoFollow, and a NoFollow. You want to obtain DoFollow links as these will move the needle for your SEO Strategy. A NoFollow link will unfortunately not add much value to your SEO strategy and could mean you have wasted your resources obtaining it.
If you want to rank higher, then you may have to create content on somebody else’s website. This may sound silly initially, but by partaking in something such as a guest post for that website, you have control over the content, meta information, and anchor text, so you’re in full control of everything.
It would be advisable to run a very quick SEO audit on the links that are coming from that website usually to make sure that they tick all of the boxes on everything that goes into obtaining high-quality backlinks.
3.3 - Anchor Text Analysis
You’ve already completed the keyword research for your own page, but now it’s time to do some competitor keyword research to discover what target keywords they are using to drive traffic to their pages using link-building techniques. This is a great way to build the keyword strategy to use when you are at the stage of link building.
You may discover that part of the SEO strategy that your competitor has used involved building links with long-tail keywords for the anchor text. They may also have been linked to by many websites that used their brand name, and even though that may have decent search volume, you cannot do this, as it would not make any sense to a user, or to a search engine.
The whole idea of conducting competitor anchor text analysis is so that you may find related keywords to your SEO campaign that you could also use, which could help to skyrocket your SEO performance.
Search engines are clever and will be wise to you using the same target keyword over and over in an attempt to boost your organic traffic. If this is something that you feel you may need some further assistance with, it may be best to speak with our in-house SEO consultant over Zoom as they can bring up the stats of your SEO campaign live and share their screen to walk you through some of the SEO techniques that may be best suited to enhance your search engine optimization.
4 - Technical SEO
If you want your SEO strategy to be in tip-top shape in the eyes of Google then they need to be able to fully understand your website and crawl it without running into any errors. This is where Technical SEO comes into play. This will ensure the Google robots have an enjoyable time whilst crawling your site.
4.1 - Internal Links
Internal links are when you link to another page on your own website. This helps search engines find even more of your content as their robots crawl the page.
It could even be something as simple as linking to a blog post that you wrote which dives further into the topic of one of the related keywords (which also then helps the SEO campaign of that particular keyword, WIN-WIN!).
The key to a great SEO campaign is to write for your ideal target user first, and search engines second. Many people think this is a backward way to do things, but this is what works because guess what…this is what Google wants you to do!
We always recommend finishing each page of your website with a call to action that leads the user to another, yet relevant, page of your website, this also builds upon your internal linking for your website’s overall SEO campaign.
4.2 - External Links
Creating a site link that leads your website visitor to an external website (i.e. not your website) is actually beneficial to your SEO campaign strategy believe it or not.
If you can link to somebody else’s website that in turn adds further value to the reader of your content, then you’ve not only made the user’s journey better but Google is smart enough to be able to connect the dots in this case also.
Make sure when you are linking to an external site that the anchor text that you use (underlined and highlighted link text) includes related keywords and that the linking site’s topic is relevant to your page also.
You also want to link to a trustworthy website also. If you have linked to a website that is not too trustworthy in Google’s eyes, this could actually harm your SEO campaign. It doesn’t need to be a household name, but use your own common sense to make sure the website isn’t just pure spam.
4.3 - No Broken Links
It is so frustrating when you click a link anywhere online and then BAM! You are hit with a ‘404 Error – Page Not Found’ link. It’s honestly extremely rare that we ever come across a website that doesn’t have multiple (yes, plural) broken links.
Conducting a quick SEO audit on the page once it has been completed is an easy way to catch something such as a broken link. We run all websites that we run SEO campaigns for through a couple of different tools to check this sort of stuff frequently. It allows us to resolve the issue before it leads to something worse.
Running SEO campaigns where broken links are involved (especially if those links are using important anchor text with relevant keywords) can be a hindrance to the success of the SEO campaign overall, so check for broken links regularly.
If you have a relatively small website, you can actually use a tool such as Screaming Frog to crawl your website and identify broken links quite quickly. You can also then see exactly where they are on your website and resolve them.
Follow the steps listed above for a well-executed SEO campaign and you are sure to rank higher in the organic search results. To create an SEO campaign that seriously drives traffic takes time but is worth it to avoid having to use paid search.
The search engine algorithms are updating constantly, so it is important to use a tool such as Google Analytics to monitor the success of your SEO campaign. This is an amazing tool by Google that can help to have an SEO analysis of how smoothly things are running within your SEO campaigns.
If you don’t have access to a paid keyword research tool to track keyword rankings easily then at a minimum we recommend that you use Google Search Console (GSC). Another great tool by Google that allows you to see what keywords your website appeared for as well as what keywords lead to click in the search results. Google Search Console is another of the amazing free SEO tools that Google provides to businesses.
If you’d like to see some SEO campaign examples where all of the above methods were followed, and most importantly the results, please feel free to have a look at our SEO case study page, which demonstrated how this works no matter what industry that you are in.
FAQs about creating a successful SEO campaign
Having a plan in place as a road-map to follow will most certainly help. What most people tend to neglect is to review the data and see how far the needle has moved based on the work that they have done by optimizing their website to be more appealing to search engines.
If you have a good grasp of each of the main pillars of SEO you are in a good starting position. The pillars include On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO. All of these need to be working together for not only your domain overall, but especially for the important pages that you are trying to rank in search engines for lucrative keywords.
That can only be determined once you have done a great detail of research. This includes research of how your own website is currently displayng to search engines and what keywords you are currently ranking for.
You’ll need to do the same research on your competitor’s websites. That will allow you to then determine how competitive your important keywords are and give you an idea of what resources would be required to achieve success.
If you have a particular tool that you regularly use within your business for project management (such as Trello, Asana, etc) that would be more than suitable. You could also bring it back to basics and use something as simple as a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet.