9 steps to research your SEO strategy that delivers results

Updated: Apr 22


An SEO strategy is crucial to help generate quality organic leads for websites. By analysing your target market and creating an SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy, you can effectively attract visitors to your website. In this blog post, we will be looking at how to research your SEO to create a fool proof strategy and a practical action plan for improving your position on Google. Because if your business fails to develop a solid search engine optimisation strategy, you're missing the best organic results from Google search.


When we're looking at SEO for our clients, we carefully research 9 characteristics of your SEO - including your current position and where you want to be before recommending an SEO strategy. Here's the 9 steps we take to research and create an SEO strategy:


  1. Keyword research

  2. Long-tail keywords

  3. Competitive research

  4. Benchmark research

  5. SERP research

  6. Backlinks

  7. Google My Business

  8. Review sites

  9. Social media

Keyword research


We need to first understand the power of keywords in a digital world. We often hear people talk about Google ranking their website based on keywords – but what does that mean? Keywords are simply words or phrases that represent a search query someone might use online. These words can be used across a range of digital platforms to increase your visibility and drive traffic back to your website from these searches.


But how do you decide what you want to rank for? You need to research your industry, find out what is working, and take some decisions.


When we work with clients, the first thing we do is draft a long list of new keywords and phrases that would rank well in searches about your industry. Here's how you can get started:


  • Type your website address into Google

  • Click on the "Searches related to" at the bottom right of Google's search results.


This will bring up a list of other relevant keywords you could potentially be ranking for (and therefore, should target).


We then take this list of keywords and begin to brainstorm words and phrases that are relevant for our clients' business - organising these into a keyword map. This allows us to see which terms are the most popular with potential customers in your industry, so we can prioritise them in order of importance when it comes to creating an SEO strategy.


To trim this list of keywords further, we look at the search volume for each keyword phrase to determine which phrases are most relevant. This is done using a tool like Google Keyword Planner.


We try to keep the list of target keywords short, typically 4 or less. This is because Google penalises websites for having too many keywords on a page, commonly called "keyword stuffing". It is important to have a mix of short and long tail keywords, but it's best to focus on the short keywords when creating an SEO strategy.


Long-tail keywords

A long-tail keyword is a phrase that is made up of three or more words. These are used when searching for information online - they help users who have a more specific search intent, which in turn tells you what type of content to create. An example long-tail keyword is "Where are digital marketing agencies in Torbay".


Long-tail keywords tend to be less competitive than shorter keywords (which means it's easier for your website to rank). They also have higher conversion rates, because they are more specific.


Long-tail keywords are also easier to rank for - because you can target a large number of searches with less work than short tail terms (which tend to be competitive). This is why it's important to carefully select long-tail phrases that will generate conversions and boost your business' online presence.


How to find long-tail keywords

Taking a broad topic and entering it into Google is one of the most straightforward methods. You'll see autocomplete suggestions for that term. These will be more specialized and less popular searches connected to the overall issue for which you're looking for.


You may also look for “People also ask” and “Related searches” at the bottom of the search results. These look at what people are searching for across the web that is not necessarily the most popular (but more precise) queries.


Competitive research

Once we've found our initial list of keywords, it's time to look more closely at your competitors and see what they're doing in terms of SEO so you can improve on it.


When we look at the top ten ranking websites for certain keywords, it gives us an insight into their strategies and allows us to formulate ideas around how our clients can better compete against them.


We want to create content that is going not only going to attract a lot of attention, but also deliver results by positioning you as an authority in your niche and encouraging people to click through – which means you need keywords with high volume traffic.


We look at your competitors' titles and meta descriptions to see what they are targeting. We then check their keyword density of the most important keywords for that page - typically these will be in the title/description or URL field (but not always).


We want to focus on keywords that have a decent search volume and low competition as we can rank for these with little effort (a Treat specialty!)


Find out what customers are asking for

We identify the questions people are asking, so we know what kind of content will help them out – giving you an opportunity to position yourselves as experts in your niche by blogging about those topics.


One trick we like is to use Google Trends to see if there is a spike in searches over the past five years. That indicates that the topic has become more popular and probably warrants writing about as we can position ourselves as an authority on those topics - making it easier for people to find us. Post-pandemic, there are alot of new keywords so it's a good idea to refresh your SEO strategy for this "new normal".


Benchmark research

The next step in our SEO strategy research is benchmarking. This is the process of identifying which website or business you hold up as an industry leader, and one which you would like to emulate. Most businesses know who the leader in their industry is, and many times analysing that website can reveal insights to their business that can inform your strategy.


First, we look at the website's title and meta description. We then take a closer look at their content, examining how they use keywords, what type of language they use (i.e., excited, or conversational), and if there is a keyword we've identified (but they haven't!) to improve your search rankings.


SERP research

SERP stands for "Search Engine Results Page". SERP is Google’s response to any organic search - it's sort of a fancy way of saying ”page 1 of Google” - but it’s so much more! We use this research to identify opportunities to rank for keywords, but we also look for opportunities for our clients to show up in SERP features:


A SERP feature is any result on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that is not a traditional organic result. The most common SERP Features are:

  1. Snippets. These are boxes of information appearing at the top of a search result for example, a featured paragraph, table or list. (Treat has had alot of success landing featured snippets for our customers.)

  2. Local Pack. This is a feature that appears on the first page of results for any search query with a local intent. It features a map of business locations along with listings for three businesses relevant to a particular search - critical for boosting local businesses in Torbay.

  3. Universal Results. These are simply images and video results that pop to the top of the search results page, for example from Google Images or YouTube.

  4. Knowledge Graph. Sounds technical, but it's essentially a box appearing to the right of search results for example, definitions or explanations of search terms (typically from Wikipedia).

Using an example searching "Salt Water Taffy"

We used a unique term that could pull up some interesting SERP results. Below are examples of a featured snippet, local pack map results, and people also ask.


 

Backlinks

What is a backlink? A backlink is a link on another website, that points to your website. We want to know how many backlinks you have, and each competitor has, and understand who they are coming from. Backlinks remain the most important ranking factor in Google's algorithm, so it is necessary to build up a number of these for your site, especially if you want to compete with other well-established websites that have been around much longer than yours.


3 ways to build backlinks are:

  • guest blogging

  • submitting links to relevant directories

  • asking influencers in your niche if they will link out to any of the content you have written.

We want the number of backlinks high because it shows Google that other websites are confident in your website and want to point their users towards it. This increases the 'trust' of your site with Google's algorithms - which means you can rank higher.


Google My Business has changed

It is as important to have your business listed on GMB as it is to have an internet presence. It's a quick and easy method of alerting your local community about the goods and services you offer, especially with the new information you can now provide your consumers. In 2020, Google My Business features expanded to include Covid-19 announcements, Services listings, Blog posts, Photos and Appointments.


Mapping for local business


Google My Business has changed to cover more ground when it comes to local search. You can list your brand on Google Maps and connect with customers in the local area, which is beneficial because most people now look up places they're going to using their mobile phone, including reviews and contact information.


Review sites

Most businesses have customer reviews, such as Google reviews, and some industries have full-blown review sites, such as TrustPilot or TripAdvisor. It's obviously important for the credibility of your business to ensure your customers rate your business highly, and there are also ways to use these sites to support your SEO strategy.


Use keywords in your review responses to help boost your rankings. It's also a good idea to link back from the review site to your website. This is because any page that contains links pointing towards it helps increase its authority in Google's eyes - which means you can rank higher for certain keywords associated with content on those pages.


Social media

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for driving your SEO, because it helps increase the authority of your website and content as well as reach a wider audience. The the higher engagement you receive on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, the more Google views it positively - so use hashtags to improve reach and influence people who might be interested in what your business offers.


Generating backlinks through social media

There are also other benefits to using social media for SEO, such as the opportunity to generate backlinks, which will improve your search engine rankings. Relevance matters - it's important that you use relevant hashtags when communicating with people on social media, so they're interested in what you have to say and engage with your content.


Use image alt-tags to boost search engine optimisation

When you post an image on social media, it can be useful to include some descriptive text. This is because the first thing Google does when it finds a picture of your product or service is look at what alt-tags are attached to it. If they're not relevant, then this won't help improve rankings - but if they are relevant, they'll help boost your SEO.


Use keywords in images to improve rankings

Just like alt-tags on social media posts, it's important that you use keywords when including photos of yourself or your products and services online. Google uses the keywords in your image when classifying what content you feature in - which can help improve rankings for certain topics or products and services.


Use SEO tools

We achieve results for our clients by using premium tools, like MozPro, Ahrefs, and SEMRush, in addition to using a range of SEO resources available online. If you have any questions about the best tools to use for what you are trying to achieve, please just drop us a line - we're always happy to help.


Creating an SEO action plan

Once we have decided on our keywords, scoped the competition, and looked at all the ways to generate content and backlinks, we put together an action plan around how we're going to implement each element in the strategy. Our action plans are practical and created for measurable performance results.


We create content pillars and blogs to drive organic searches, and we work with partners to generate co-authoring opportunities and backlinks. We also audit your Google My Business account, and your social media to prioritise and get your presence and promotions driving traffic to your website.


Working with an SEO Agency in Torbay

Working with an SEO agency in Torbay will help you achieve the results you're looking for and help your business grow online. Our team of experts have a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping businesses achieve page one rankings on Google, as well as increasing website traffic and improving brand awareness.


SEO agencies have the tools to do the job

As a leading SEO agency in Torbay, Treat has access to a range of tools and software that help us identify where your website could be improved, as well as which keywords are most relevant for you.


Interested to learn more?

If your website is just existing, without delivering for your business, get in touch. With our tried and tested tactics, Treat will deliver website visitors and make your phone ring! Give us a call at 07513 472371 or drop us a line at hello@treattorbay.co.uk



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