Converting the five pillars of SEO into actionable strategies can be complex and difficult. Each pillar represents an abstract philosophy or ideal. However, within these guiding principles you can derive actionable techniques. Relevance may be the most important pillar as it impacts all aspects of SEO.
After all, SEO has many parallels with other marketing strategies you probably already employ, such as content marketing, social media, or PR. Many of these strategies are based on market trends, best practices, and industry research. That being said, creating SEO campaigns and implementing them can be surprisingly difficult.
Relevancy is involved in all SEO strategies. It needs to be considered while doing keyword research, when crafting compelling content that appeals to your audience, and building a diversified backlink portfolio to optimize your website for search. Even strategies like link building need to be centered on relevance.
By creating a fictional company, we can provide real life examples on ways to transfer the "why" (pillars of SEO) into the "how" (actionable techniques). Beginning with relevance, we discuss how strategies are put into practice, with examples of how a company can become and remain relevant within their market and their desired target audience.
For our fictional company we have a business owner by the name of Sandra Wallace who runs an e-commerce site specializing in RC hobbies, named Wally's Hobbies. Sandra is passionate about electronics and sells products such as remote control boats, cars, planes, and even drones.
Wallace has been practicing these hobbies her whole life and can be considered an expert in the niche. Her goal as a business owner is to increase her company's search rankings and overall visibility.
An e-commerce business is a perfect example, as it requires creativity in regards to SEO strategy. E-commerce businesses can struggle with SEO campaigns because many of their pages are products pages, which offer little information or compelling content which could possibly garner interest from potential visitors. E-commerce domains also offer few opportunities for a link building campaign.
Wallace's business must remain relevant if she wants repeat customers, while at the same time appealing to new customers who are in need of her products and services.
So Wallace has her business, her e-commerce site, products, expertise, and hopefully a sizeable customer base. Now how does Wallace ensure she stays relevant to her audience?
Finding Relevant Audiences Online
Wally's Hobbies will struggle with relevance if Wallace doesn't know who she is appealing to as a supplier of RC products. More importantly, who is she appealing to online?
Identifying where her audience lives online will help in all aspects of Wallace's SEO campaign. Understanding her audience will shed light on what keywords should be targeted, what products are the most popular, and what types of content will be most appealing -- guiding Wallace's overall SEO strategy.
Wallace needs to find out who she is targeting online, and more importantly, what they want. Of course she knows she is targeting people who participate in RC hobbies. But are they interested in airplanes, boats, drones, or helicopters? Is there a market of people who are simply looking for repair parts? Wallace needs to know what online users are looking for (user intent), but where does she even begin?
There are two major avenues to take, ideally Wallace will take both. Google Analytics and manual keyword research are going to be the best sources of information about her digital audience. Google Analytics is a bastion of knowledge. Wallace will need this tool to learn more about her target demographic such as:
- Affinities (defines a user by interests such as "sports fan," "technophile," etc.
Using this information Wallace can draw broad conclusions about what type of people, statistically, are going to be part of her online niche.
Another helpful tool I want to address before getting into keyword research is BuzzSumo. This tool helps you analyze the social climate, and will allow Wallace to see trends that rise and fall within her niche. BuzzSumo will track the most popular articles related to her market, so she can see what people are interested in and talking about. BuzzSumo is a great tool for brainstorming popular (and relevant) content ideas and identifying potential link opportunities.
Keyword research is another strategy Wallace can use to further understand her audience and niche.
Keyword Research and Implementation
A simple way for Wallace to measure her site's relevance to her potential audience is to ask the question: "How relevant is my site to popular keywords and search terms?"
A simple question, but a complex answer.
Wallace is going to have to understand user intent if she is going to do keyword research properly and effectively. Knowing what keywords her audience is searching for will help Wallace identify gaps in her current strategy as well as potential opportunities for improvement.
There are many keyword tools on the web that Wallace could use for keyword research, including:
Wallace decides to use Google's Keyword Planner and Authority Labs.
Google's keyword tool provides search volumes, keyword trends, and insights into new keyword opportunities. This research will give Wallace a deeper understanding of her niche.
Using Authority Labs, Wallace can monitor keyword rankings for each URL on her website's domain. This is essential to maintaining keyword relevancy and viewing trends as they occur. While certain topics and keywords will always be tied to certain niches, these keyword search volumes can fluctuate.
Since Wallace owns an RC hobby site, "RC hobbies" or even "RC products" could be popular keywords to target. But keywords like this with high search volumes are typically extremely competitive, and it may be very difficult for Wallace to gain visibility in these verticals. For this reason, it would be wise for her to also target keywords that are less competitive.
"RC replacement parts" may have a lower search volume, but if she uses the keywords deliberately on her website, she will be taking advantage of an opportunity to build more visibility through the use of a wide range of keywords. Wallace will want to keep her keywords diverse, and avoid duplication or keyword stuffing. The more keyword research Wallace does, the more she is going to learn about her niche and audience. Wallace can use this information to guide her SEO campaign, keeping relevance at the forefront.
A Relevant Content Strategy
Wallace has already done her keyword research and gathered some invaluable information on her industry. Now she must decide how to optimize the content on her site. Ideally, Wallace was considering keywords and relevancy during her previous research, which she can now utilize during her content creation.
When Wallace is creating a content strategy based on relevance she needs to focus on more than just articles or a blog, but also her landing pages, product descriptions, meta-descriptions, title tags, alt tags, and headers. All aspects of the code on her website should be optimized with keywords.
This can be particularly burdensome for an e-commerce site due to the high amount of URLs within the domain. Product descriptions are not exempt from optimization, since Google bots will also crawl these pages to determine relevancy.
If Wallace wants results, she will have to put in the time and effort to create content that is relevant (using information gleaned from keyword research and tools like Buzzsumo) to her audience and niche. Whether this takes the form of a blog, ebook, resources pages etc. is dependent on what her research dictates.
Once Wallace has quality content on her site (commonly referred to as linkable assets) she can move onto additional SEO campaigns such as creating a link building strategy for her e-commerce site. This will further diversify her backlink portfolio. If other relevant sites link to hers, Google will take this into account when determining the degree of relevancy Wallace's site has to the RC hobby market.
Relevance and Google
If you have some knowledge of SEO, you may be hearing the mantra "content is king" in your head. This philosophy definitely has merit, but should be realized through a holistic approach to SEO. If you content is boring and offers no substance, your content is not going to perform.
Above all the other pillars, Wallace needs to consider relevance. Relevance is woven into every aspect of SEO, and should always be taken into account no matter what pillar she is focusing on. By using her company as an example, it can be seen how a theory becomes action, and how relevance will be a part of each pillar. Content may be king, but it all begins with relevance.
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