SEO is a complicated endeavor. It’s rarely quick, almost never easy, and constantly changing. However, there are some overarching components that, if you include these three pieces, will demonstrate SEO success in nearly all cases. I’m the queen of saying “well, it depends,” because, in digital marketing, most things really do depend; they depend on the industry, situation, seasonality, and many other factors. However, understanding these three principles will help in (nearly) all situations and (almost) guarantee SEO success. Yes, I still had to qualify those pieces, but for the most part, it was all pretty accurate.
1. Understanding your customer is the most important first step in any SEO campaign.
That one I don’t think I have to qualify at all because there is never a time that understanding the customer shouldn’t come first. This is the single most important thing you must do before you start and as you work through an SEO campaign. You need to know how they’re searching: what search engine are they using, are they on a mobile device or a desktop, are they searching at work or at home, what kinds of keywords are they using, how informed are they on the topic, what qualifies them for your product or service, and what is their intention when they search (navigational, informational, transactional)? Understanding the persona quite literally informs all the other pieces of your marketing strategy, but in particular, how you approach SEO.
2. Quality content that puts the user first is an essential component.
Often, we see people getting hung up on the technical components (meta titles, headings, schema). And these are definitely important. But the quality content has to come first. The reason is that good content answers questions. When it answers questions, people will find it. It balances the two parts of the coin that Google (and the other search engines) are trying to balance: relevance and authority. Relevant content answers your questions exactly. Authoritative content gets in front of the right people and is useful, shareable, and helpful. Frequency of posting, timeliness of the content, and accessibility of the content (ADA-compliant) all fall under this category. By making sure you’re creating great, useful content for users, you’re ensuring that the algorithm will follow.
3. Yes, the technical stuff does matter.
Now, I know I said in the previous paragraph that you shouldn’t get hung up on the technical stuff. However, let me qualify that by saying that there are many components in the technical arena that are really important. For example, measurement and testing are incredibly essential components of your technical process. If you aren’t measuring, you really aren’t marketing, so having defined start and end dates, variables to test, and the full scientific method are essential. Also, doing proper keyword research, competitor analysis, and robust research will make a profound difference in the performance of your SEO campaigns. Also, making back-end changes to your website, ensuring you have tags for everything, that load time is great, metrics are being optimized, and you’re working the backlink angle are important components of a solid SEO strategy.
Oh, did I somehow turn three things into maybe 20 things? Silly me. But there are 210+ known ranking factors, so obviously I couldn’t just boil it down to something like headlines, alt tags, and a blog. These three big-picture components of an SEO strategy encompass many parts, but these three pieces are ones that really haven’t changed much in the last 16 years I’ve worked in SEO. They also are less likely to change as time goes on because it prioritizes the user and that is immutable.
So are you ready to undertake an SEO campaign? Do you need a helping hand? Learn more about our approach to SEO in our services and in our blog, and then reach out and let us know how we can help.