A good search engine optimisation strategy is sustainable because SEO is always oriented towards what the company does at its core. Optimisation should therefore not be pursued blindly but seen as the potential time to make a sustainable brand statement through a precise selection of optimisation methodology.
If there is an interrelationship between SEO and corporate vision, the design of an SEO strategy represents a huge opportunity: the chance to be more aligned with what users want in the future, a potential to reinvent yourself and remain (or become) agile. On the other hand, it also means that you have to align your measures with what characterises your company.
So how do you implement a search engine optimisation strategy that is also sustainable? We explain it in 7 steps.
7 steps for a sustainable SEO strategy
1. Defining KPIs and objectives
At the beginning, one must always ask the question: "What is the objective?", "Where do we want to go?". The SEO objective can differ a lot depending on the project:
- Increasing digital visibility for the target group
- Market development
- Lead generation
- Increasing the conversion rate of sales or service requests.
When setting goals, it is important that they are SMART. SMART is an acronym that stands for: specific, measurable, accepted, realistic and timed. This method is derived from project management and ensures that goals are not formulated as wishful thinking, but as concrete, measurable milestones whose progress can be observed.
Concrete KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) help the measurability of objectives. These must be defined according to the target vision of the project and can also be very individual. Classic KPIs in the SEO field are, for example:
- The Visibility Index
- Numbers of organic users
- User behaviour metrics
- Clearly defined keyword ranking positions
- Organic sales and turnover figures
- The organic conversion rate
Once targets have been set and KPIs defined, it is advisable to set up monitoring systems such as dashboards or regular reports to ensure transparency of progress for all parties involved.
2. User needs analysis
Because SEO is an inbound marketing channel. This means that the user already has a concrete intent, one that they try to put into words when they type into the search engine. A need that must be addressed with the search result itself. So, once the objectives have been set, the next step is to focus on the desires and needs of the potential target group.
To tailor the SEO strategy to the needs of users, one must first know who the potential users are.The target group must be defined. Methods such as target group analysis or the creation of personas are of great help at this stage. Many companies already have a good view of their target group. However, it is worth taking a deeper and more structured look at the needs and wishes of potential customers.
Unlike specific advertising for target groups via Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, in search engine optimisation there is no direct way to reach one's target group. Consequently, one has to search for the proper search terms by which one's target group is most clearly represented. Here, however, there are often losses, as less specific search terms with a lot of volume can often contain several search intentions. But first, let us return to user needs with an example.
Giorgio plays football in an amateur league outside his job and is injured during a league game. The physiotherapist's diagnosis: sprain of the external ligament. He is prescribed physiotherapy and a bandage with a healing time of a few weeks. But Giorgio cannot wait that long: the end of the season is approaching and the team still has to win against AC Aston. Thus begins Giorgio's search for alternative treatment methods to help his strained ligaments heal.
This example teaches us two things:
1) tracing the chain of events helps us to make the needs of our users more tangible.
2) the phase of the event (in our example, the sports accident) and the need that arose (the fastest recovery) reveal completely new dimensions in which there is potential for search queries that can be used to attract the user.
3 Competitor analysis
Competitor analysis depends very much on the project. In some cases you already know your competitors and their approach very well, in others you do not even know who all your competitors are. Analysing competitors can be very fruitful for the design of your strategy. But in some cases it also happens that the competition is simply not strong enough to learn something from them. But this too is a learning experience: identifying what you do not want to do.
Competitor analysis typically takes place during the entire conceptual period of the SEO strategy. It is often worthwhile to take a first look at competitors already in the context of target group analysis. But also in later stages, such as keyword research or the conception of measures for website structure and technical implementation, competitor analysis can provide useful insights. And for both: 'Dos & Don'ts'.
There is a whole range of SEO tools that can be used for effective competitor analysis. We use SEOZoom with particular preference, but well-known tools such as SEMrush, ahrefs, MOZ etc. also fulfil the requirements and can also help find digitally strong competitors. This can for instance mean analysing market niches and focusing on them - or turning competitors' weaknesses into your own strengths (customer service, sustainability, etc.).
4 Keyword search
During this phase, we can translate the acquired information on the target group into concrete search queries. After we have collected the first formulations and keywords, it is necessary to use tools to check whether they are actually searched for. Particularly useful in this process is the autocomplete in Google Search (Google Suggest) and related queries at the bottom of the search results page, keyword tools, Keyword Generator or the Google Keyword Planner
However, comprehensive keyword research is an art in itself and goes beyond the scope of this article. We recommend our keyword article for further reading.
Once the keywords have been identified, they must be prioritised. The prioritisation of keywords plays a central role in the subsequent prioritisation of measures: if we know which keywords are most important to us, we can also focus on measures that specifically aim to improve them.
5 Keyword mapping and content strategy
In this phase, the defined keywords are assigned to the corresponding pages of the website. Therefore, it is important to ask oneself: which of my pages best fulfils the user's intention? A URL often covers several keywords that can be combined into keyword groups with the same search intention. On the other hand, it also happens that keywords are not yet covered by existing pages of the website. In such cases, we have already defined a first measure within the framework of the strategy conception.
Sometimes it can happen that a search intention is addressed by several landing pages. Pages must then be redesigned or merged to avoid duplicate content and keyword cannibalisation. And thus the first concrete SEO measures already start to emerge.
At this point, it is essential to think about site structure and content strategy. Both topics would deserve a separate article, but to summarise the most important thing: With the help of the search intent reverse engineering technique, the requirements of one's own landing page are defined. The starting point is the specific search query, which is then typed into Google and the first 10 search results are analysed.
6° Technical audit
Technical SEO analysis is essential in the planning of a comprehensive strategy. This is where it makes sense to carry out the so-called Technical Audit: the entire website is put to the test and potentials that need to be optimised are discovered. Until a few years ago, the focus was very much on on-page factors such as snippets, H1 and H structure, URL structure, etc., and while all of these points continue to be important, it has to be made clear that there are additional technical factors that are playing a central role and must be analysed comprehensively as part of the technical audit: crawlability and indexability of content, the concept of mobile first and Core Web Vitals as a new Google ranking factor.
With the completion of the technical audit, you should have accumulated a comprehensive report of measures that should be processed and recorded accordingly. Where do you start?
7. Prioritising measures and planning the time agenda
Now that the optimisation measures have been determined, priorities have to be set. The point of a strategy is precisely this: to know what is important and when, to be able to set a clear focus and not work wildly on all sites at the same time. When prioritising measures, two factors are of crucial importance:
- How much is the cost of the measure?
How much is the expected impact of the measure on my concretely defined goal?
After identifying the prioritised measures, a timetable for optimisation can be established. In this case, it is necessary to estimate the time required for the corresponding optimisations. Of course, this estimate is also subjective. Welcome to search engine optimisation!
We have come to the end of our 7 steps needed to build a sustainable SEO strategy. What do you think? Have you already implemented these steps? Let us know in the comments and remember, if you are looking for support for your web presence, you can count on DevInterface's industry knowledge and professionalism.