Ah-h, beginning of the year. Best time for making gym promises and defining business strategies. And if there is one thing that no online business can survive without these days, it is technical SEO. Even though other things can (and should) be done, tech SEO still remains the basis of everything.
But what exactly does it imply? A surface-level search reveals that the Internet is full of extensive tutorials and exhaustive lists on how to make your SEO shine. With such abundance it is easy to lose yourself in seemingly endless details and cool new trends, strategies and tactics. Thus, we have decided to narrow this down and present what we consider 6 stepping stones of a successful SEO strategy to propel your business in 2021.
1. SEO FOMO & the get-rich-quick tactics
“All that glitters is not gold”
There is no shortage of new types of content and growth tactics that are popping up daily. It is often tempting to follow online advice and start implementing different strategies left and right, but a lot of times we forget that not all websites are created equal, and the strategy should always be unique and tailored to a specific context.
Even though we regularly see reports of successful implementation of a particular tactic, all it really means is that that specific approach worked for that specific website. By no means all new hot SEO tactics can be scaled and effectively applied to other businesses.
Not all content types will work for your business. Take podcasting as an example: it has rapidly grown in popularity in the last few years, and it is a great tool for link building. However, before diving into it one should carefully evaluate the pros and cons of working with this medium. As such, there are some downsides to keep in mind: it is time-consuming, it involves a lot of work and preparation, and businesses need to be clear on how much value they’ll be able to get from it as a result.
The bottom line is you as a business owner need to really think critically about the medium – based on what you have to bring to the table, what your business agenda is, and who your current and prospective customers are.
It is time to ditch black-hat SEO. It is astounding to see so many consultants providing recommendations based on black-hat SEO tactics. White text on white, cloaking, keyword stuffing – it is outrageous to discover that these and similar techniques are still considered appropriate in this day and age. It is absolutely crucial for businesses to focus their efforts on white-hat SEO, and the reason is not purely ethical. Google algorithms are becoming smarter, and are able to easily see through any of the shady stuff, which really makes the black hat unwise as it may do more harm than good.
Businesses need to be realistic about the resources they have and make sure to use them wisely. Even though it is easy to get carried away planning and strategizing, one has to be mindful of whether or not this can be implemented effectively. It is often a good idea to focus your SEO on smaller and more specific goals. This way, your efforts will be more sustainable, enabling you to get more predictable results over time.
2. Viral is not always valuable
Recently there has been a significant upsurge in digital PR. Viral content has become a big part of the Web in general and eCommerce specifically. However, it is important to remember that virality doesn’t always work as you plan and that campaigns need to be well thought through in order to maximize the effect.
To illustrate, let’s take a look at an example of a well-executed ad campaign.
Dog jumpers ad campaign for Misguided by Rise at 7
The campaign itself was super simple, based around a single landing page advertising dog jumpers. The intent was to get better traction and move up in SERP rankings, from the top 30 into the top 10. In the search for clues, Rise at 7 looked at the search volume and seasonality and found that the annual peak search volume for dog jumpers is in November. They realized that in order to fully capitalize on this trend, they had to launch the campaign in October, making sure that both the concept and content were in place.
One of the fun things the agency did was play around with the idea of matching jumpers between dogs and their owners. They launched this through Social Media, managed to build up a decent hype, and got good feedback. This further reassured them that they could scale the idea and turn it into a full-on ad campaign, which they did.
The results turned out great: apart from 60+ backlinks generated during the campaign, the Dog Jumper landing page by Misguided managed to rank #1 in Google, outpacing both Amazon and eBay!
All in all, the campaign was a success because it was seasonal, really simple, required little investment, and it presented the Misguided brand in a very fun way, managing to strike a chord with the audience.
7 Elements for a successful Digital PR campaign for SEO
- Data-driven: does it present information in a unique and interesting way?
- Topically relevant: is it specific enough?
- Clearly branded: does it represent your brand in a clear fashion?
- Newsworthy: can it make a good headline?
- Linkable: is it worth linking to?
- Simple: how easy is it to both produce and comprehend?
- Seasonal: how well does your campaign align with your target audience’s interests?
3. Intent and intention
Content is King, but Intent is Queen
All too often we see product descriptions and other bits of content that are mainly sales-oriented or overly focused on technical specifications, which brings little value to your clients and prospects. Instead, you need to make sure that your content answers your customers’ questions and solves their pain points.
How to easily do this:
- Solve, don’t sell
- Understand your target audience
- Make sure your product descriptions target the searcher’s intent
- Writing SEO content is easy once you start talking about solving your client’s struggles
4. Going long-tail
Keyword research is crucial for eCommerce. Even though most searches are long-tail, oftentimes we see that a lot of conversions are lost due to businesses failing to include search specifics in their keywords – such as colors, sizes, and genders.
Another hidden issue here is that the long tails are often hidden in the faceted navigation – usually either canonicalized or not indexed at all. Thus, right off the bat, it is important to look into the most important features of your offered products or services and implement long-tails to fully capitalize on them.
For an in-depth dive into keyword research for SEO with a proven framework and ideas to grow your search traffic that you can easily adapt to your website, we suggest checking out Ahref’s Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research.
5. Scheming with structured data
Google is Independent, but Still Enjoys Our Support
Structured data is one of the topics that is constantly updated, and for good reasons. Google themselves gives us a clue on how important this is by stating “Google uses structured data to understand the content of the page”. While this will benefit any website, it is really crucial for every eCommerce store to mark up everything that is eligible for marking up. Meaning, literally everything.
One of the main benefits of structured data is that it allows to drastically enrich customer experience and build much more immersive landing pages. But to apply this effectively and keep up the pace, businesses need to stay on track regarding the latest structured data features. This information can be readily accessed via Google central website, as well as by following other resources and influencers in this field.
6. Hygiene is two-thirds of health
Core Web Vitals & Page Experience
Technical SEO being the basis of everything, it is crucial to keep it in shape at all times. Some of the most effective ways to do this are as follows
- Introduce monthly health checks
- Make sure to keep a close eye on bugs and errors, as they do affect performance
- Keep optimizing your internal linking structure; refer to log files if in doubt about your website’s performance
- If you are looking to migrate your website, have an SEO team involved before your developer team starts working on it
- Never underestimate the importance of technical SEO, and keep track of the current trends and standards in the industry.