By Kahl Orr, founder of Rise, a digital marketing agency that builds high-performing websites for some of the fastest-growing brands.
Investing in search engine optimization (SEO) for your brand in 2022 is more than a necessity—it’s a priority. SEO increases your chances of ranking on the first page of search engine results and optimizes your website’s visibility. Investing in SEO makes it easier for your customers—current and potential—to find you online, providing long-term brand equity.
What is SEO?
Google calls SEO the process of making your website better for search engines. If you’re new to the world of SEO, you’ll find two main categories of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO focuses on optimizing parts of your website you can control, such as:
• Keyword strategy
• Quality content creation
• Page speed optimization
Off-page SEO concentrates on increasing your domain’s authority through efforts outside your website, such as:
• Link building
• Social media marketing
• Email marketing
• Paid search marketing
Before we get too carried away with the intricacies, let’s focus on the top seven SEO best practices that should be a part of your 2022 digital marketing strategy, no matter how big or small your budget.
1. Write content for humans first.
Writing accurate, quality content on a regular basis should remain an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. While you should optimize content for search engines with your target keywords and keyword phrases, you don’t want to make it look like you are trying too hard or keyword stuffing.
It’s equally important to ensure the content is easy to read, interesting and offers value to its readers. A lot of businesses write content without a target audience in mind. If you don’t already know everything there is to know about your target audience, find out. Use your research to discover your audience’s problems and address them in your content.
2. Use multiple long-tail keyword phrases.
Search engines now understand relevant subtopics of a specific keyword, creating more competition for shorter-tail keywords. To supplement your foundational keyword strategy, use long-tail keyword phrases of three words or more to rank for relevant terms. Be sure to include these long-tail keyword phrases in your content, title tags, meta descriptions and URLs.
3. Concentrate on featured snippets.
Featured snippets are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results and answer the searcher’s query. One study shows featured snippets get approximately 8.6% of all clicks. If you optimize your content to appear in the featured snippet, expect a notable boost in your organic click-through rate. Optimize for long-tail keywords, use question words like “why,” “do” and “can,” and format your content in paragraphs, lists or tables for easy scanning.
4. Pay attention to user experience.
Optimizing your website for user experience is key to long-term success online. However, many abstract factors can influence user experience, including a user’s feelings, motivations and values. In digital marketing, Google’s new algorithm update evaluates a user’s overall experience with a web page using various metrics, including their core web vitals.
You can improve your website’s user experience by examining page load speed, specifically optimizing images and videos, minimizing redirects and enabling browser caching and cookies. Other metrics to consider include interactivity, visual stability and HTTPS security. Take actions to improve these metrics and consider bounce rate, average time on page and click-through percentages.
5. Focus on technical SEO.
When your website has technical issues, it often results in a poor user experience. My team and I use a technical SEO checklist to review our client’s websites, focusing on:
• Google’s core web vitals
• URL structures
• Website architecture, including internal linking
Technical SEO lays a strong foundation for your website to better support your digital marketing efforts.
6. Build up your backlinks.
Backlinks are critical to building brand authority and should be the backbone of any SEO strategy. Many companies have embraced the importance of having a content strategy, but this means nothing if no one is linking to your content. When looking for link-building opportunities, seek high-authority websites to improve your ranking, credibility and traffic.
Great link-building options include mentions of your brand or website that remain unlinked or joining a thought leadership council. In addition to providing an opportunity to network with like-minded peers, joining a professional community can be part of a regular SEO campaign and link-building budget. Backlinks provide tremendous value, offering social proof, building awareness and positioning you as an expert in your space.
7. Create an internal linking strategy.
Focusing on your internal links helps search engines understand your website and each page’s meaning, hierarchy and authority. A good internal linking strategy includes where you link to a page, what anchor text you use and how often you link a page. These factors allow Google to understand each page’s priority when it’s crawling and indexing them. Internal linking can be crucial for large sites with a lot of content and a need to maximize their budget.
If you currently don’t have a team or agency dedicated to your website and digital marketing efforts, you’re likely missing out on hundreds of new customers. When working with a digital marketing company, you gain a team of website and SEO professionals who understand the nuances of a good SEO strategy in today’s digital world.