4 core elements for the success of your SEO strategy

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In today's highly competitive online landscape, the SEO more important than ever. Almost 38% of German consumers initiated their online purchases via Google or an alternative search tool in 2020 - more than three times as many as via retailers' apps or websites and second only to searches conducted at Amazon begin.

To shine in organic search results, brands need to be armed with a toolbox of strong SEO tactics and strategies. Before you can take your SEO to the next level, you need to identify where you currently stand and what you need to do next. At wfDesign, we know how important it is to be at the top of the search results. So let's explore together four core elements that you can use to develop a more competitive SEO strategy for your brand.

1. crawlability: create your SEO foundation

To appear in search results, your website must be discovered by search engines. In other words: If you are starting from scratch or have never used SEO before, your first task is to make sure your website is visible to search engine crawlers. A common problem here is easy to fix: your website's robots.txt file. Retailers and brands often neglect this tiny file, but by attaching instructions, crawlers can know which pages you want indexed and which ones you don't.

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You should also show the crawlers the structure of your website to improve indexing. This will probably require you to update and expand your sitemap or design one from scratch. The optimal sitemap for SEO crawlability includes all product pages, subcategories and categories of your website. If you're curious about how long it takes to map or update your site's seemingly infinite number of product pages, services like Spotibo can create a sitemap that you can link to in your robots.txt file. Once you have revised the robots.txt, submit it to Google, Bing or other search engines so they can re-crawl your website as quickly as possible.

If your website uses outdated plug-in technologies such as Flash or Silverlight to display content, this can be a major problem for crawlability. Silverlight and Flash content is not visible to search engine crawlers and therefore does not appear in the SERPs. To make this content visible, it must be converted into a format that can be indexed, such as JavaScript or HTML5. The conversion process can take several months and you may need new software and programming skills to complete it. Once the conversion is complete, you can map the content, update your robots.txt file and submit it to Google.

2. content optimisation: use your existing assets

Once your robots.txt, sitemap and crawlability issues are fixed, the next core SEO element to implement is content optimisation. This requires making better use of your existing assets to improve your ranking for specific keywords. You can use the Google Keyword Planner to create a list of target keywords based on volume and ROI. Then use this list to improve your meta tags and content, starting with your top-level pages, moving through your categories and subcategories, and ending with your product pages.

Instead of working through your entire website, you can simply prioritise the optimisation of a handful of selected pages. For example, if the product category "Page A" performs relatively well, use Google Search Console to measure its performance. Does the page correlate with specific keywords? If the answer is yes, you can optimise the category page for those keywords to boost its performance. This is to support, but not supplant, your programmatic SEO tools.

3. offsite: Generate links and brand loyalty

The next phase of creating your SEO programme is to consider offsite strategies such as social influencer relationships and link building. It is not necessary to wait until all existing content is optimised before starting offsite work, but the more comprehensive your content optimisation process is, the more SEO benefits you will receive from your link building and influencer efforts.

Link building involves research and it is an excellent idea to check Google's link building ethics and best practices before you start. The most effective way to find potential links is to use a tool like Majesticwhich shows you where your competitors' backlinks come from. This tool displays a list of possible websites that you can contact with link requests. Narrow this list down to quality websites with solid traffic and a strong social media presence. Don't expect a big response to your contact - a response rate of 10 to 15 percent is respectable for link building campaigns.

Finding the right influencers also requires research. You need to understand your product and your audience. You also need to identify the social media users who have built a following by posting about your niche and industry, and then find out who their audience is. It is also important to realise that the most prominent influencers in your niche may not give you the best ROI.

You can use up your budget quickly if you work with top-tier influencers, or you can choose to partner with micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are people who have between 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers/viewers and are considered experts in their respective niche. This can be anything from a local fashionista to a food blogger to a traveller or a health guru. These smaller, more targeted niche experts relate to their audience on a deeper level and drive more engagement.

In fact, influencers with 1,000 followers generated 85 % higher engagement than those with 100,000 followers, and engagement tends to decrease as the number of followers increases. Staying in the 1,000 to 100,000 follower range proves to be the ideal point. It's obvious - a limited audience means much more hands-on, individual attention, which is clearly a recipe for marketing gold.

4. content creation: expanding knowledge topics

If your company has been maintaining its SEO programme for some time, you can take your content creation to the next level. At this point, your content should go beyond describing your products and services and address customer questions related to what you sell. For example, instead of creating more content about the wallets you sell, you should develop content about how to choose wallets for different occasions, how to care for leather wallets and so on. Researching keywords and competitors is necessary to find out which topics you should focus on.

Use a tool like SEMrushto perform a content gap analysis in relation to your products, segment, market and relevant search phrases. For example, a shoe retailer's keywords include basics such as "men's shoes" and "women's shoes", but there are other popular search phrases they can benefit from such as "running shoes" and "dress shoes". If you do this analysis, you can usually produce somewhere in the range of 750 - 6,000 keywords that you can use to create non-promotional content.

However, it is likely that you will not use all the keywords. Your next step is to segment your fresh inventory of keywords and evaluate how you perform for these phrases compared to your competition. This filtering can take anywhere from several days to an entire month. Although this may seem like a tedious task, it is an investment that will translate into a content action plan for your SEO strategy. For example, you can prioritise the keywords where you have a competitive chance and make them the focus of your content creation plan for the coming year.

In summary, to reach this level of SEO, you must first develop the other levels. Crawlability provides you with the basis for optimising your current content. Optimisation makes link building and influencer marketing more successful. Knowledge content creation is the culmination of these other levels. Taken together, these core elements provide you with a robust SEO strategy that helps you acquire organic search traffic.

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