If your business has a website, you obviously have it for a reason. Whether you want to attract potential clients or make sales directly through the site, you’d want to make sure that people can find your website. That’s why it helps to have an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that will get your site in front of the right audience through relevant search results. But with changing search engine algorithms and growing competition, this is easier said than done.
In this guide, we show you the essential steps on how to create an effective SEO strategy in 2024. So let’s get into it.
How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy in 2024:
What is an SEO Strategy?
An SEO strategy refers to an action plan that’s intended to boost a website’s ranking and improve its visibility in relevant search results. It may involve different tactics to optimize your content and make improvements to the technical aspects of your website so as to drive more organic traffic.
Importance of Having an SEO Strategy
5 Steps to Develop an SEO Strategy for 2024
Now let’s break down the essential steps that are involved in developing an SEO strategy. While the specific steps may vary from business to business, the following are often standard.
Step 1: See Where You Currently Stand
First, it’s important to have a clear idea of your current SEO performance so you can later measure the impact of your strategy. When you benchmark your performance at the start, you’ll be able to track any changes resulting from the strategy you’ve implemented. Your Google Analytics report should be able to provide you with key SEO performance metrics for your website. You can also use third-party SEO tools to gauge additional metrics.
At the most basic level, you should benchmark your performance in terms of organic traffic, keyword ranking, and backlinks. Essentially, these would tell you how many visitors your website received within a specific timeframe, how you currently rank for certain keywords, and how many links are currently coming to your site. Your new SEO strategy should be able to deliver an improvement across all these areas.
Step 2: Review Your Competitors’ SEO Strategies
Next, you should be looking at how your competitors are doing and what they’re doing to achieve it. A thorough competitor analysis should be able to tell you where your competitors are currently ranking, which keywords they’re ranking for, how many backlinks they have, and so on. Then compare these performance metrics against yours to see how you stack up to them.
There are a number of competitor analysis software tools that will let you compare your competitors’ SEO performance against yours. Ahrefs, for instance, will provide you with a detailed list of the number of keywords your competitors are ranking for, the number of referring domains and backlinks, and more.
Beyond these basics, make sure to take a closer look at their SEO strategy to see what you can replicate, what they’re lacking, and how you can capitalize on their weaknesses. For example, you should try to figure out what types of content they’re creating for their top keywords. This can tell you what content your target audience is looking for so you can prioritize it for your own strategy.
Similarly, you should look at the websites that are linking to them and the context behind those links. You can then compare this with your own to see which websites you’re missing out on and why you’re not getting links. This should help you build a solid backlinking strategy by reaching out to those same websites for backlinking opportunities.
Step 3: Set Realistic and Measurable Goals
With what you have so far, you can start to lay out the goals that are important to you. This would essentially involve a step up from your current performance. For example, you may be planning to increase organic traffic by 20% within the next two months. Or you may want to rank #1 for a specific keyword over the next 12 months.
You may also want to set goals that involve getting your numbers ahead of the competition. However, these goals should be realistic and achievable based on where you currently stand and what timeline you’re looking at. So, for instance, if you’re currently ranking 10 steps behind a certain competitor, you might be unable to get ahead of them within just a 2-month span.
Additionally, your goals should be specific and measurable so you can clearly evaluate any improvements. Make sure to clearly define the key metrics that will help you measure your performance, especially in relation to your goal. Besides your organic traffic, this may include metrics such as backlinks, click-through rates, keyword rankings, and so on.
Step 4: Audit Your Existing Content
Finally, it’s time to take a closer look at the existing content on your site to see how it can better contribute to your SEO efforts. The process involves deep-diving into the different pages on your website to assess their individual performance and identify any issues or potential improvements.
Are there any pages that don’t seem to get much traffic? Do you notice certain pages that hardly saw any sessions? Make a list of pages that drove the least amount of traffic and had the least amount of engagement.
You can go to your Google Analytics and sort your landing pages by the least number of users and the least number of sessions. These are the pages that you’ll need to first focus on for your SEO strategy.
Additionally, sort your page performance to identify your top-ranking pages. Then go through the content on those pages to see what seems to be working well. What do those pages have in common that seem to attract a higher amount of traffic? Perhaps they’re well-structured and highly detailed as opposed to the sparse content on your low-performing pages?
Step 5: Develop/Fine-Tune Your Strategy
Finally, it’s time to build out your SEO strategy, with your initial efforts focusing on the low-performing pages on your site. Once the issues with those pages are fixed, you could span out and make improvements even to the pages that are performing well. The idea is to get even further with those pages so you can rank number one for them and stay ahead of the competition.
There are several actions you can take with your low-performing pages. What you choose to do will depend on factors such as how important the page is and whether it’s still relevant. Here are some ideas on how to deal with your low-performing website content:
- If the page is no longer relevant (read: services you no longer offer, products that are obsolete, etc.), deleting it completely is your best option. You don’t want to have outdated and irrelevant information that could ruin the visitor experience on your website.
- If you come across multiple pages addressing a similar or related topic but have very sparse content, consider merging them into one page. This page will be able to perform better with users and search engines alike as it will have more in-depth, high-value content.
- If the content is still relevant and important but contains outdated pieces of information, you can also optimize and update it. Consider fleshing it out a bit and strengthening it with additional content that would add value.
Besides dealing with low-performing pages on your site, there are several other tactics to include in your SEO strategy. Here are a few of the basics that you should consider adding to your strategy.
Building Out Topic Clusters
The topic cluster model is very popular in modern SEO strategies, and that’s because it works. A topic cluster refers to a group of pages that are interlinked around a specific topic. It helps you build a more deliberate site architecture and organize your site’s content in a hierarchy. That way, search engines can determine your site’s authority around certain topics, which can improve your ranking.
Under this model, you’ll have a pillar page that focuses on one broad topic. You’ll also have a cluster of pages around this topic, with each page covering a separate subtopic in-depth. These cluster pages will be connected to the pillage page through interlinking and vice versa.
So, for example, let’s say you have a pillar page that focuses on digital marketing as a whole. You can then have several cluster pages around different digital marketing disciplines such as email marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and so on.
Improving On-Page SEO
Another crucial step is to ensure that you have a strategy in place to improve your on-page SEO. This would involve improving the on-page SEO for existing pages as well as setting up a protocol to have proper on-page SEO for new content. At the most basic level, you’ll need to focus on the following elements:
- Headings – Must contain target keywords and have relevant H1, H2, H3 formatting.
- Title tag – Ideally around 50-60 characters. Must contain the target keyword without overdoing it.
- Meta description – Typically around 160 characters. Must contain the target keyword naturally and describe the content of the page.
- Internal links – Content should link out to other relevant pages on the site. Anchor text should closely match the URL of the linked page.
- URLs – Must contain the relevant target keyword. Remove unnecessary words to keep them short and simple.
Fixing Technical SEO Issues
Similarly, 404 errors and 301 redirects are also considered technical SEO issues and must be resolved so you can improve your site’s ranking. Duplicate content and thin content are other types of issues that you’d want to fix to make sure that your site’s SEO is on point.
You can use a tool like Site Audit from Ahrefs to look for issues related to your technical SEO. From here, you can identify the issues that need fixing and get recommendations on how to resolve them.
Having a Consistent Publishing Schedule
When you post consistently on your site, you’re providing your audience with fresh content, which could help you attract more visitors. This can positively affect your SEO efforts since search engines will assess your site’s relevance based on those visits. As such, it helps to have a proper publishing schedule in place so you can consistently update your site with new content. Create a content calendar to lay out your ideas ahead of time and schedule your content production accordingly.
Strengthening Your Backlinks
Improving your on-page SEO and fixing your technical SEO issues can work wonders on your site’s ranking. But there’s a lot more to it than that, with off-site SEO factors playing an important role. This is where backlinks from other sites come in, which would essentially tell search engines that your site is credible and relevant.
Ideally, you want to gain backlinks from sites that are reputable and relevant in your industry. However, the process takes a lot of work and might require months until you get a decent number of backlinks. There are a few options to earn backlinks to your site:
- Create high-value content that people would want to link to. Reports, case studies, thought leadership pieces, etc. are usually great options.
- Look for guest posting opportunities so you can publish content on other websites that include linkbacks to your site.
- Personally reach out to site owners and editors of relevant websites to request backlinks to your site.
So What’s Next for Your SEO Strategy?
Now that you have all the essential steps needed to build an SEO strategy in 2024, you’re all set to get started. Follow the steps and ideas shared above to revise and improve your existing strategy or build a new one from scratch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does SEO still work in 2024?
Yes, SEO is still very much relevant in 2024 as search engines still need to crawl and categorize web pages to rank them, and SEO is necessary to help them do so.
How much does SEO cost in 2024?
The cost of SEO depends on a number of factors such as the size of your business, the scope of the project, and the agency you’re working with. Generally, you can expect to spend anywhere between $1,500 and $7,500 per month on SEO.
How to rank on Google in 2024?
Creating high-quality content, getting quality backlinks, improving your website structure, and improving your site load speed are some of the basic steps to rank on Google in 2024.
Is SEO dead due to AI?
AI will change the SEO landscape, but won’t render it completely obsolete.
What is bad for SEO?
Thin content, poorly written content, duplicate content, technical SEO issues, failing to match search intent, etc. are some of the worst things for your site’s SEO.