The online landscape is becoming increasingly competitive for brands old and new, making organic SEO more vital than ever. A study showed that in 2018, a huge one third of consumers started their online purchases with a search on Google or other search engine, and we can only imagine that this number will grow exponentially.
In order to compete on an SEO level, a solid strategy and foundation is a must. Before you can improve your SEO and Google rankings, you first have to know where to start and where you need to go. But don’t worry, we’ve put together 4 starting blocks for you to get right first in order for your brand to be more competitive in search engine optimisation.
1. Crawlability & Crawl Budget
First thing’s first – in order to be indexed on Google, your site has to be crawlable. So if you’re starting from scratch, your very first port of call should be to ensure your website is visible to search engine bots. This means taking a look at your robots.txt file and making sure it isn’t stopping Google or other bots from crawling your site. Not only this, but you’ll want to give the bots some guidance – make sure they can crawl the important pages and any pages that aren’t necessary for indexing should be blocked to ensure your crawl budget isn’t wasted on poor content.
A sitemap is also important for laying out the structure of your content, thus giving the bots further guidance. Tools such as Screaming Frog can generate a sitemap you can link to in your robots.txt file. Once complete, submit your sitemap to Google in your Google Search Console account so that they can re-crawl your pages as soon as possible.
2. Optimise Your Content
Once you have your sitemap, robots.txt and crawlability all in order, you will want to move your focus to your content. Backed up by good keyword research, put together a list of target phrases and keywords based on volume of searches and potential ROI. This will be a guideline for the type of content you want to optimise for in terms of new content as well as enhancing your current assets.
3. Offsite Optimisation
You can start your offsite optimisation even before your existing content is fully optimised, but having all of your content up to scratch will certainly help and will enhance the benefits you gain from link building and influencer relationships.
Link building is one of the most time-consuming aspects of SEO and requires good research and strict practices. A good place to start is discovering your competitors’ backlinks and seeing if there is an opportunity for you to also secure an inbound link. Tools such as SEMrush will allow you to see where your competitors’ backlinks originate from. Narrow that list to high-quality sites with good traffic and a strong social media presence. Getting a 10%-15% response rate is good for link-building campaigns so don’t get disheartened if you can’t secure a link from every single opportunity.
4. Knowledge Topics
Once you have your foundations in place, have created good content and have a link-building strategy well under way, you should consider changing how you create and publish your content. The idea is to expand beyond describing the products and services you sell to answering consumer questions related to those topics. Aim to become a source of knowledge and authority regarding all things to do with the products and services you’re advertising.
Use a tool like SEMrush to do a content gap analysis based on your products, segment, market and relevant search phrases. You can typically generate somewhere between 750 and 6,000 keywords that you can use to create non-promotional content. The next step is to segment your new list of keywords and analyse how you perform for those phrases versus how your competition performs.
But in order to reach this level of SEO, you will have to build upon the solid foundations of all the points above. Think of knowledge content-creation as the tip of the pyramid.