We need to know what keywords we are ranking for, how they are performing and, critically, if they match what we really want to rank for. What this really does, from a strategic perspective, is to set the direction aligned to relevant business goals. Take a look at the core keywords that are effectively business critical and represent the core of your business. We need to find out how these are performing and how they can be supplemented to improve their ranking potential.

For example, if we are a women’s fashion retailer, “dresses” might be supplemented by “summer”, “jeans” by “ladies” and “skinny fit”, specific colour, pattern, size, material and so on; “ladies black denim skinny jeans”. This increases the relevance of your website as its content becomes more relevant to the search terms users seek. Hence by expanding your keywords to include a wider range of modifiers around Ladies jeans, and using combinations of style, colour and fabric provide a whole new series of keywords that are a direct match to the products on our site, delivering potential customers straight to the products they have searched for.

There is no need to stop there though, expanding the keywords further into brand, Levi’s, Armani, GAP, and size, 8, 10, 12 etc. will increase the relevance of search results as users go from browse mode to buy mode; from “ladies jeans” to “ladies black skinny fit Wrangler jeans size 14”. Hence, when the user has searched in detail, colour, brand, or both, along with her size your product’s relevance increases (Google likes this) and the chance of your results showing in a high position, along with the likelihood of a sale increase; as you are discoverable for all the key information relevant for click prior to a purchase decision.

Hence, keywords are evolving too, topical SEO puts Keywords into clusters, allowing for specific, niche focus with content to suit. This also caters for long tail keywords to be incorporated to serve the rise of voice search where the spoken sentence is far more conversational and at times complex than the cut down search terms that we have previously seen; one in five searches are now voice search according to Google.

Think of the scenario like this, you live in Oadby and your dog needs a wash and a haircut. You might type in a search for “dog groomer Oadby”, whereas if you were asking in a conversational manner you might say “is there a dog groomer near me that you would recommend?”. The difference is huge, the former, typed search, would turn up a plethora of results, some good and probably some not so good. However, considering Google knows your location, the conversational style returns more precise results, and some that aren’t so much.

The point is, that as digital marketing professionals we must look at the data and accommodate the rising trend of voice search. The sites that returned a result in both search styles are arguably in a more advanced state than those who were just listed in the short, typed search. It is still considered in its infancy, but it’s certainly the direction that users are headed.

Moving on to links. Link building continues to be a comprehensive part of any effective SEO strategy, but our focus should be on quality rather than quantity. Here we must consider depth, really high quality including niche sites. Again, going back to the audit, any links that are current but not working must be jettisoned; Google hates a 404 page! Or alternatively, we might like to contact the (linking) site owner asking them to replace the link with a good one; either way, the problem is solved! The quality of your site’s external links (the ones pointing toward your site) is critical for your website’s domain authority, a reasonably important ranking metric.

Outreach can be a very effective tool to drive traffic, but we must not be overly reliant on links as certain types of links can often be regarded as spammy as per  Google’s warning in May 2017, and will therefore downgrade the organic ranking of your site.

Guest bloggers are fine; but remember quality over quantity. Our authors should be a good fit and knowledgeable about their subject to provide quality content; obviously it goes without saying content should be original and not plagiarised.  Ensuring content is not duplicated from one post to another nor repeated from our own site is key advice from  searchenginewatch.com. They go on to advise that a list of preferred bloggers should be identified and contacted as part of a planning process.

Check our meta data! SEO spiders like Screaming Frog can pull out our site’s meta titles and descriptions, the bits that search engines use to crawl your site, these need to be relevant to and descriptive of the web page and within the character limit.  Google states 65 characters for meta titles and 155 characters for meta descriptions it optimal; but beware, these limits are inclusive of spaces!

Now, we all know that we can write our own articles too; these should be focused, relevant to the product or service offered, i.e. if you are writing a blog for a car accessories website, do not write a blog about cookery (this has happened.) Furthermore, if you have brand guidelines, these must be adhered to always, these may include topics, lifestyle focuses or product usage, tone of voice and writing style.

Planning is a core part of any strategy, and our content plan for the coming months should be carefully thought through, well researched and implemented throughout the calendar year, taking into consideration the need to provide reactive content as required. Setting up a content calendar that focuses on key events that you might be involved in through the coming months as well as scheduling in any tasks that were discovered as a part of your audit. Planning 3 months ahead usually works well as it allows the strategy to stay relatively responsive as deemed necessary.

As a Google Premier Partner, we offer our customers a range of specialised Digital Marketing services including Paid Search Management, Technical Search Engine Optimisation and Conversion Rate Optimisation for start-up retailers to multinational B2B players.

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