In the world of digital marketing, it seems like everyone’s talking about search engine optimization (SEO) these days. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon—SEO, as a concept and a strategy, has actually been around since the 1990s. And while there’s no shortage of content out there for marketers to educate themselves, SEO really only works when your strategies align with the right audience, and when you set the right kind of objectives.
That puts new marketers in the unenviable position of having to sort through the noise to find actual answers to key questions like:
- What is an SEO strategy in digital marketing?
- Why is it important to get SEO right?
- What are the components of an effective SEO marketing strategy?
- How do you design and execute an SEO marketing strategy?
If you’re ready for answers, you’re in the right place. By the end of this article, you should be able to not only answer these questions but hit the ground running as you develop your own SEO strategy. We’ll also introduce you to some successful examples of SEO marketing strategies that should provide a helpful and repeatable template for strategy development.
What Is SEO in Digital Marketing?
In simple terms, SEO refers to a collection of marketing strategies designed to help companies’ websites appear in the search results when their prospective customers are looking for the kinds of solutions they offer.
For example, there’s a good chance you happened upon this very article due to SEO, especially if you found it by searching something like “What is SEO?” or “How do I write my own SEO strategy?”
SEO is important because it enables companies to effectively attract and engage new customers through a tailored mix of paid strategies and organic marketing. Leveraging SEO within digital marketing strategies is both an art and a science.
Why Is SEO So Important?
SEO is important because an overwhelming majority of the web’s content—over 90%—gets no traffic. Furthermore, the highly-coveted position one (in search rankings) receives roughly one-third of the search traffic. This means that a lot of digital marketers are working hard to create quality content, only to be underwhelmed when the needle barely moves.
So, the number one reason SEO is so important is a very practical one: it helps companies get their content (and brand) in front of prospective customers looking for solutions. Broadly, SEO strategies can:
- Increase brand awareness among key audiences
- Increase the organic traffic their content receives
- Complement other marketing activities, like pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and email marketing
- Produce a competitive advantage
- Build your brand’s credibility and authority, among customers as well as search engines
- Improve rankings when customers are performing local searches
- Strengthen website content and organization
- Improve user engagement rates
- Produce tangible, sometimes transformative, results
How do you assemble a strategy that will produce these outcomes? It ultimately comes down to putting the right elements together in the right ways. Next, let’s look at the must-have components of SEO.
What Are the Four Basic Elements of an SEO Strategy?
When developing an SEO strategy (which we’ll get into shortly), you’ll want to be aware of the main types of SEO and their uses. So, what are the 4 types of SEO strategies?
True to its name, on-page SEO refers to strategies applied to the customer-facing content of your website. This includes the information on your homepage, product pages, and especially your blog. When you can create content that uses the exact keywords and questions your customers are searching for, you can greatly increase your chances of receiving organic traffic when those queries are made.
- Examples of on-page SEO strategies include performing keyword research, producing and promoting high-quality content, and optimizing your website’s internal linking strategies, title tags, meta tags, and even images.
Off-page SEO refers to other practices for driving traffic to your company’s website. Components of off-page SEO include backlinks from other websites, ads that direct customers to your pages, and so on. When others link to your content, it helps signal to search engines that you’re an authority on a given topic.
- Examples of off-page SEO strategies include pitching articles to publications with credible reputations in your industry or connecting with other blogs and content providers for cross-posting or other promotional opportunities.
Technical SEO focuses on the general usability of your website, and the visitor experience it provides. When returning search results for a given query, search engines like Google prioritize websites that are easy to navigate. Optimizing things like site load times and mobile friendliness help ensure that your site will be considered helpful, clear, and safe.
- Examples of technical SEO strategies include optimizing your site’s load speeds, improving its mobile-friendliness, creating consistent organization and site architecture, and so on.
Local SEO refers to specific techniques for improving search rankings within a given geographic area. This is especially important for companies that either operate within a specific area or are looking to increase their brand’s reach into new or underdeveloped markets.
- Examples of local SEO strategies include creating targeted landing pages tailored to specific regions or considering local markets when searching for backlinking or cross-posting opportunities.
What Are the Top 3 SEO Strategies?
The best examples of SEO in digital marketing tend to work so well because they effectively marry the art of content creation with the science of keyword research and SEO best practices. With that in mind, let’s explore a few of the most impactful SEO strategies that should be on your radar.
- Keyword Research: Whether you’re thinking about on-page, off-page, technical, or local SEO, keyword research plays an important role in ensuring that your content will align with what customers are looking for. If you’re looking for automated keyword research, DemandJump is a great place to start.
- Content Marketing: Content marketing is driven by helpful, informative content. By publishing search engine-optimized content that informs and engages your target audience, rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and can increase organic traffic, especially among your target customers.
- On-Page SEO and Website Optimization: Website structure is arguably as important as the content itself, especially if we consider the behind-the-scenes work of search engine algorithms. There are countless tools available to provide insights into how well your website is performing, like Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Best practices for on-page SEO and website optimization include incorporating high-value keywords throughout your website, linking pages together to create an authoritative content network, and using clear headings and organization throughout your site.
Why Is Setting the Right Strategy So Important?
Broadly speaking, the digital marketer’s job is to attract and engage a target audience. Doing so requires them to understand and work within the context of search engine algorithms, which are ever-evolving.
It used to be relatively easy to manipulate search engines, giving way to short-lived trends like keyword stuffing, where marketers literally put as many high-value keywords into their text as possible—resulting in content that’s not particularly informative or coherent. In other words, that’s just writing for search engines, not humans.
Today we’re in a new era, though, largely because search engines and humans are both too smart for manipulative little tricks like keyword stuffing to work. Nowadays, SEO is more technical and nuanced than it used to be. But why and how has SEO changed so much?
Google’s Helpful Content Update Takes Center Stage
Search engines like Google have become more sophisticated—and more focused on providing a positive search experience for users. Look no further than the relatively recent “helpful content” update, which effectively prioritizes websites that feature content written for people, not algorithms. It means just using keywords and questions your customers are searching for isn’t enough; you’ll also have to address and answer them with quality information that’s written to engage human readers.
How Do You Write Helpful Content?
Fortunately, forward-thinking platforms like DemandJump have prioritized this type of content creation from the start. DemandJump is a SaaS platform for digital marketers to perform keyword research, plan their content, and more—in a way that aligns with what search engines and humans both value. Through our unique and proven approach, Pillar-Based Marketing (PBM), we help companies across a number of industries develop strategies that drive real results.
What Is Pillar-Based Marketing?
Pillar-Based Marketing is the newest strategy for powering SEO marketing strategy success stories. It’s where keyword research, content marketing, and on-page SEO meet. Here’s how it works:
- As a digital marketer, you can use the Demandjump platform for automated SEO keyword research, gaining quick insights into exactly what your customers are searching for, even the precise ways they form their search queries.
- Based on those keyword insights and recommendations, you can also see what keywords you’re currently ranking for in search, which keywords your competitors are outranking you for, and where the best opportunities to close those gaps and overtake the competition lie.
- Once you’ve identified high-value keywords you want to rank for, the PBM methodology prescribes exactly what you should produce to signal to search engines that your company is an authority on the topic. A typical PBM plan specifically contains:
- One 3,000 topic overview (known as a Pillar Page)
- Three 2,000 word Sub-Pillars that explore the biggest sub-topics, and
- Twelve Supporting Blogs (750-1,000 words each), where each addresses a specific question. You can learn more about the PBM methodology by checking out some of our recent blog posts on the topic.
- DemandJump provides one-click Content Briefs to help writers hit the ground running with keyword recommendations for each piece.
- Once the pieces are all written, they are hyperlinked together with everything ultimately driving back to the pillar topic. You can see how the pieces link together in the graphic below:
By answering the questions your customers are asking, PBM practitioners can write and publish content in a way that’s equally valuable to their customers and search engines.
What Are the 3 Stages of SEO Strategy Development and Execution?
We recommend a 3-stage process for developing—and executing—a successful SEO strategy:
- Stage 1 | Setting your scope, objectives, and timeline
- Stage 2 | Making a concrete, data-informed SEO action plan
- Stage 3 | Writing, publishing, and promoting
The best strategies begin with their endgame in mind, which means you’ll need to start by determining the project scope, setting clear objectives, and mapping out a plan and a timeframe.
- Scope: At a high level, what do you want to accomplish? For example, are you looking to increase organic traffic to your website? Promote a specific product or service? Overtake key competitors? Dominate the local market? Once you have a general idea of what you want to achieve, you can start to develop objectives and a plan/timeframe for meeting them.
- Objectives: The best objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.). Some of the most critical and commonly-cited SEO objectives use metrics like website traffic, page views, keyword rankings, authority scores, and so on.
- Timeline: Timelines can be difficult to determine, since there are countless variables to consider—including your available resources, what the competitive landscape looks like, and so on. Similarly, the question of how long SEO strategies take to deliver results can be challenging to answer, but most experts agree it takes at least a few months. That’s why you’ll often see companies start with either a 6 month SEO plan or 12 month SEO plan.
You can’t—and shouldn’t need to—write about everything relevant to your business or the solutions it offers. The best SEO strategies focus on a specific topic or topic cluster that you know your prospective customers are looking for information about or help with.
For example, suppose you’re a running shoe company. Many of your potential customers are likely looking for help identifying the right running shoe for how they run, their fitness objectives, and other factors.
If you’re a SaaS marketing platform, like DemandJump, it makes sense to write informative articles about how SEO marketing works. In each of these examples, it’s not hard to imagine how various pieces of content could be related and interlinked. Doing so lays a solid foundation for a compelling call to action (like browsing your running shoes, trying a SaaS company’s platform for free).
Pillar-Based Marketing is a strategy built around answering your customers' exact questions. Sure, it’s not difficult to make assumptions—especially since you know your customers pretty well—but assumptions aren’t always accurate. This is when you need to start leveraging SEO keyword research tools, like DemandJump, to see what they’re asking and what language they’re using.
Incorporating customers’ authentic language helps brands produce content their customers will feel is authentic and credible. We encourage you to learn more about DemandJump’s automated SEO keyword research tools as you make your keyword lists and map out your content network.
There are many different ways to start the content mapping process, including auditing your existing website content to see what pages customers find valuable. You can also look into where there may be opportunities to create timely new content to fill in any gaps or remedy any outdated information.
As far as the types of content to produce, you’ll want to consider:
- Content on your homepage and/or any landing pages
- Product descriptions and/or documentation
- Articles and blogs
Each of these areas provides an opportunity for on-page, off-page, technical, and local SEO strategies to help boost that content and help drive your website to as many search engine results pages (SERPs) “position ones” as possible.
Mapping out the exact content to produce can feel tricky, but it doesn’t have to. Pillar-Based Marketing is an SEO strategy example that helps brands gain traction and overtake their competitors by writing an intentional network of related topics that signals to readers and search engines that your website is an informative, trustworthy corner of the internet.
You can use this handy SEO plan template to start plotting your strategy right now.
Love it or hate it, next comes the actual writing. With your list of keywords and game plan for the various pieces of content you want to produce in tow, you’ll want to write informative and engaging content. To get the most bang for your content buck, consider these best practices:
- Write for humans, not search engines. Incorporate SEO keywords into your content, but you don’t need to overload each piece of content or get overly technical in most cases. The primary objective should be to write clear, informative content.
- Make sure individual pieces are organized and easy to read, by using headers, subheaders, bulleted lists, images, and other tactics for breaking up walls of text.
- Make sure each piece has a great introduction to hook readers and a compelling call to action at the end.
Before you publish your content, then, be absolutely sure to edit your work. Even the most informative content will turn readers off if it’s riddled with careless mistakes. Remember, the whole point of this content network is to position your company as an authority—thought leader, even—within your industry.
When it’s time to publish your SEO content, we recommend publishing the entire network of content at once, and including strategic hyperlinks to create an effective content network. For PBM users, that means using a specific linking strategy. Here’s our recommendation:
- Your Pillar Page won’t necessarily link to other pieces, but every other piece of content (Sub-Pillars and Supporting Blogs) will link back to it. This signals to search engines that the Pillar Page has the most authority.
- Each Sub-Pillar should include a hyperlink (in the introduction) to the Pillar Page.
- Of the 12 Supporting Blogs in a PBM campaign, three blogs will link to each of your three Sub-Pillars and the Pillar Page; three blogs will link directly to the Pillar.
How Do You Create an Effective SEO Strategy in 2023 and Beyond? With DemandJump (and PBM)
There are many different ways to approach SEO strategy, but in many cases informative, engaging website content will form the foundation. As far as authoritative, effective content goes, it’s how you write, publish, and promote that content that can make or break the whole thing.
We set ourselves apart by what we offer, which includes:
With DemandJump, you can spend less time strategizing and more time writing and publishing the kind of content that’s going to attract and engage prospective customers and inspire them to work with your business.
Did we mention yet that you can try DemandJump for free? Go ahead, and give the button below a click! Or, reach out if you have any questions.