By far, the biggest mistake you can make with your SEO strategy is to underestimate its importance.
A robust SEO campaign remains the single most important foundation of a broader digital strategy. According to the most recent estimates, up to 95% of all web traffic is channelled by the major search engines.
Even with all the high-profile paid ads in the world, nothing can deliver more consistent performance improvements than strategic SEO.
The Changing SEO Landscape
Over the years, the SEO landscape in many respects has changed beyond recognition. What may once have propelled you to the top of the rankings could now see you dealt a punishing penalty.
But what has remained constant throughout is the importance of creating and executing a multi-dimensional strategy, comprising numerous complementary tools and techniques.
As for which of these tools and techniques are most effective in 2022, it’s the usual case of taking things back to basics. An SEO campaign doesn’t need to be immensely complex to get the job done – often quite the opposite.
Whether starting from scratch or looking to give your existing campaign a shot in the arm, here are the eight things every SEO strategy needs to succeed on today’s digital landscape.
1. Relevant, long-tail keywords
First up, the importance of focusing on long-tail keywords of relevance cannot be stressed highly enough. You need to take a step back and consider exactly what you target audience is searching for these days.
In the past, a user may have simply typed “Plumber” in the search bar and hit the button. Today, web users are more likely to enter queries like “Cheap emergency plumber in Maidstone”, or words to that effect.
Likewise, the use of long-tail questions as search terms is more prevalent than it has ever been. Rather than entering “Headlight replacement” in the search bar, you’d be more likely to enter “How do I replace the front left headlight in a 2018 Fiat Panda?”
Consequently, the content you publish needs to be engineered to cater to these kinds of search terms. Accurate and insightful answers to questions are looked upon particularly favourably by Google and the other major search engines.
There’s still a time and a place for individual keywords and shorter search terms, but long-tail has become the preferred format for the vast majority of web users. If in doubt, keyword research tools like Buzzsumo or KeywordsFX can provide invaluable insights.
2. Unique quality of relevance, value and detail
If you want to become known as an authority in your niche, you need to deliver the goods in terms of content. This means doing what it takes to provide your target audience with one-stop resource for everything they could possibly want to know about your area of expertise.
It’s not enough to simply touch upon a handful of vaguely relevant topics. Nor will you get away with basically regurgitating what’s already available elsewhere.
A great way of branching out into other areas of relevant content is to use the “People Also Ask” feature in Google’s search engine. Enter a question of relevance to your business, after which you’ll be presented with a long list of other topics the same target audience has expressed an interest in.
This will give you an instant snapshot of the kind of content you should be publishing, along with the extent to which the questions outlined have already been answered elsewhere. You can then work on making your own answers even more helpful and insightful, while putting together an all-round resource that answers all questions in one place.
3. Technical prowess and performance
This used to refer to websites that stood out from the crowd with their technological sophistication, radical presentation and ground-breaking features. Today, it refers to nothing more than the capacity for the website to get the job done smoothly, seamlessly and effortlessly.
We’ve long-since reached a point where almost nine out of 10 web users will abandon a site that doesn’t (fully) load within 3 seconds. This also applies to every subsequent page accessed within the site itself. You have three seconds to win their trust and appreciation, or they’ll be gone for good.
Technical prowess from a 2021 perspective is all about performance. Page load times, no 404 errors whatsoever and a site that doesn’t slow down during peak times. The major search engines are constantly keeping an eye on key performance indicators like these, when assigning positions in their SERP rankings.
Google PageSpeed Insights provides all the information you’ll need to evaluate the performance of your website and its pages. If you have any doubts as to your capacity to make the necessary improvements in-house, consider enlisting third-party support.
4. User-focused design
User-focused design means just that – website design that focuses exclusively on the priorities and preferences of the user. Google and Co are engineered to evaluate dozens of separate factors with regard to the UX of a website, in order to determine its ranking position.
As in the previous entry, user-focused design in 2022 is all about simplicity. For most web users, the priority is to get where they want to be as quickly and painlessly as possible. Whether looking for informative web content or out to purchase a product, they want a fast and fuss-free experience.
Hence, step one is to create a simplified navigation system and make it as easy as possible to get around your website. It should be possible to get from any page to any other page within one or two clicks at the most.
Incorporate a mix of different media types for added appeal, while ensuring everything on your website serves a purpose and has clearly defined value.
5. Mobile responsiveness
It’s not necessary to dwell on this particular point, as it’s been a staple for several years now. Whatever kind of business you run, you have to assume that most of your traffic originates from mobile devices.
If that’s not the case today, it will be soon enough.
Mobile web traffic has vastly outpaced desktop traffic in countless key markets worldwide. Your job is to ensure that your site provides a flawless user experience across all device types and browsers.
Anything less and you could be turning your back on an enormous audience of prospective leads.
6. Optimisation for voice search
Data from DBS Interactive suggests that a whopping 41% of adult web users perform at least one voice search each day. This equates to hundreds of millions of voice searches each week, as the technology becomes a staple in homes and offices worldwide.
Optimising for voice search means adopting a slightly different approach to that of conventional SEO. This is due to the tendency for voice searches to be more detailed, precise and conversational in nature.
It’s something that feeds into the long-tail keyword element outlined earlier. With voice search, queries like “Where can I find a cheap launderette that’s open right now?” are more commonplace than “Launderette near me”, for example.
The major search engines are working hard to embrace the growing popularity of voice search, and present the best possible recommendations to its already vast audience of adopters. Consequently, anything you can do to cater to the needs of this audience only stands to work in your favour.
7. Local SEO focus
The key to successful SEO often lies in limiting yourself to the most important local demographics for your business. If you are targeting a specific locality with your products or services, this local area should form the basis of your SEO campaign.
Breaking into the local SEO 3-pack is the holy grail of local SEO, which begins by claiming your Google My Business listing and ensuring it’s populated with all relevant information. More often than not, competition for top spots in local SEO stakes isn’t nearly as ferocious as national or global SEO.
The more defined your target market, the easier it becomes to climb the SERP rankings. This is where long-tail keywords and answers can (and should) be used to your advantage, referencing you target locality at every available opportunity.
In addition, the general localisation of the content you publish can make a big difference to your local SEO performance.
8. Tracking, analysis and continuous optimisation
Finally, it’s worth remembering that there is no such thing as a perfect SEO strategy. Even if your current campaign is exceeding all realistic expectations, there are no constants in the world of SEO.
What works today could prove ineffective (or even counterproductive) tomorrow. The only way to sustain an SEO strategy is to strive for continuous performance improvement at all times. This means embarking on a programme of ongoing tracking, analysis and optimisation.
Luckily, analytics provide detailed insights into everything you need to know for a successful long-term strategy. Experiment, perform split tests and make regular adjustments in key areas, keeping a careful note of what works and what to avoid.