The Complete Guide to Creating an SEO Strategy for Your Blog in 2021
Here's a cliché among bloggers and digital marketers: search engine optimization (SEO) isn't what it used to be.
Here's a true statement you don't hear as often: your SEO strategy for 2021 shouldn't focus on keywords. These days, most businesses understand the basic concepts of SEO and why it's important.
However, when it comes to developing and executing a sound SEO strategy for your blog, just creating content for the keywords your readers are searching for is both arduous and, well, wrong. In this post, we’ll explain what an SEO strategy is, and how you create your own to help you meet your ranking goals.
What is an SEO strategy?
An SEO strategy is the process of organizing a blog’s content by topic to improve the likelihood of appearing in search results. Essentially, it is the process you follow in order to maximize the opportunity to gain organic traffic from search engines.
Why Is An SEO Strategy Important For Your Blog?
Having an SEO strategy is important because it helps you stay on track when creating blog content. Instead of just creating what you think people are looking for, your strategy will ensure that you’re creating content that people are searching for.
For content marketing, an SEO strategy is a critical piece of the puzzle because it is how your content will come to be seen in the first place, especially in search engine result pages (SERPs). If your content is scattered and unorganized, search engine bots will have a harder time indexing your site, identifying your area of authority, and ranking your site pages.
What Types of SEO Should You Focus On?
There are three types of SEO that an SEO strategist can focus on:
- On-page SEO: This SEO focuses on the content that's actually on site pages, and how to optimize it to boost the blog's ranking for specific keywords.
- Off-page SEO: This SEO focuses on links directed to the blog from elsewhere on the internet. The number of backlinks a site has from reputable sources helps you build trust with search algorithms.
- Technical SEO: This SEO focuses on a website's backend architecture, like site code. Google cares just as much about technical setup as it does content, so this position is important for rankings.
Bear in mind that every blog has different objectives, so it is your job to examine your niche, determine what your audiences care about, and develop a strategy that gives them what they’re looking for.
Below we’ll go over some steps you can take to ensure your SEO strategy sets you up for success.
SEO Content Strategy
- Make a list of topics.
- Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics.
- Build pages for each topic
- Create a consistent blogging schedule.
- Prioritize mobile SEO
- Create a link-building plan.
- Stay up-to-date on SEO news and best practices.
- Measure and track your content's success.
1. Make a list of topics
Keywords are at the heart of SEO, but they're no longer the first step to achieving organic growth. Instead, the first step is to make a list of topics you’d like your content to address.
To start, compile a list of about 10 words and terms associated with your product or service. Use an SEO tool (Check our comprehensive list) to research these words, identify their search volume, and come up with variations that make sense for your blog.
By doing this, you are associating these topics with popular short-tail keywords, but you’re not dedicating individual blog posts to these keywords. Let’s go over an example of this process using the image below.
Let’s say a swimming pool blog is trying to rank for “fiberglass pools,” which receives 110,000 searches per month. This short-tail keyword can represent the overarching topic for creating their content, but the blog will also need to identify a series of related keywords to include in their content. For example, they could opt to use the “fiberglass pool prices,” or “fiberglass pool cost,” to achieve additional rankings for the overall keyword of fiberglass pools.
Using search volume and competition as your measurement, you can create a list of 10-15 short-tail keywords that are relevant to your business and are being searched for by your target audiences. Then, rank this list based on monthly search volume.
Each of the keywords that you’ve identified are called pillars, and they serve as the primary support for a larger cluster of long-tail keywords, which we’ll discuss below.
2. Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics
During this step, you’ll begin optimizing your pages for specific keywords. For each pillar you've identified, use your keyword tool to identify five to 10 long-tail keywords that dig deeper into the original topic keyword.
For example, Swish regularly creates content about SEO, but it's difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic with this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword — and potentially the same SERPs. Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, creating an SEO strategy (which you're reading right now), and other subtopics within the SEO umbrella.
This helps blogs attract people who have varying interests and concerns — and ultimately create more entry points for people interested in what you have to offer.
Use your long-tail keywords to create blog posts that explain the specific topics within the pillars you’ve selected. Together, all of your long-tail keywords create a cluster around a pillar topic. Search engine algorithms depend on the relationships between clusters to connect users with the information they're looking for.
Here's a short video on this concept:
Think of it this way: the more specific your content, the more specific the needs of your audience can be, and the more likely you'll convert this traffic into leads. This is how Google finds value in the websites it crawls — the pages that dig into the inner workings of a general topic are seen as the best answer to a person's query, and will rank higher.
3. Build pages for each topic
When it comes to websites and ranking in search engines, trying to get one page to rank for a handful of keywords can be next to impossible. But, here's where the rubber meets the road.
Use the pillar topics you came up with to create a page or post that gives a high-level overview of the topic using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in step two. These pillar pages can essentially be a table of contents, where you’re giving a description of the main topic, and briefing readers on subtopics you’ll elaborate on in other posts.
Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with your blog needs. This will make it much easier for your prospective readers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.
4. Create a consistent blogging schedule
Every blog post you create doesn’t necessarily need to belong to a topic cluster. There's also value in writing about other ‘tangential’ topics your customers care about to build authority with the Google algorithms.
With that in mind, make it a point to blog at least once a week. Remember, you are blogging primarily for your audience, not search engines, so study your readers, know what they love, and write about things that they are interested in.
It may be helpful to create a content strategy to remain consistent and focused on your goals.
5. Prioritize Mobile SEO
Mobile SEO is an important factor to keep in mind when creating your overall strategy. Mobile optimization involves ensuring your site and site content are available and accessible to visitors on mobile devices, so they can have the same experience and receive the same value as desktop browsers.
Mobile optimization is incredibly important, as Google practices mobile-first indexing. This means instead of crawling a desktop site, the algorithm will use the mobile version of your site when indexing and ranking pages for SERPs. In addition, 61% of Google search queries occur on mobile devices. So, all things considered, your SEO strategy would be ineffective without prioritizing mobile optimization.
6. Create a link-building plan
The topic cluster model is your way forward in SEO, but it's not the only way to get your blog content to rank higher once it's been created.
While our first five steps were dedicated to on-page SEO, link-building is the primary objective of off-page SEO. Link-building is the process of attracting inbound links (also called backlinks) to your website from other sources on the internet. As a general rule, sites with more authority that link back to your content have a more significant impact on your rankings.
Dedicate some time to brainstorming all the various ways you can attract inbound links. Maybe you’ll start by sharing links with other blogs in exchange for links to their own sites, or you’ll write a few blog posts and share them on different social media platforms. You can also approach other blogs for guest blogging opportunities through which you can link back to your website.
7. Stay up-to-date on SEO news and best practices
The search engine landscape is ever-evolving. Staying on top of current trends and best practices is an important strategy, and there are multiple online resources that can help you do so. Here are a few resources to check out:
8. Measure and track your content's success
SEO can take a lot of time and effort, and, because of this, you’ll want to know if your strategy works. It’s important to track your metrics to understand the success of your overall process and identify possible areas for improvement.
You can monitor organic traffic using your preferred web analytics tool or create your own dashboard using Excel or Google Sheets. Also, tracking indexed pages, conversions, ROI, and your rankings on SERPs can help you recognize your success as well as identify areas of opportunity.
Create A Strategy That Supports Your Business Goals
Ranking in search pages can be difficult. While it may seem enticing to create content that is centered around high-traffic keywords, that strategy may not help you meet your business goals.
Instead, opt to create an SEO strategy that helps you address your individual business needs, like increasing customer acquisition, for greater marketing success. To learn more about SEO, check out this Ultimate Guide to SEO.
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