In this blog, Jim Beckam, SEO Director at The B2B Marketing Lab, explains how brand-new businesses can - and should go about - creating an SEO strategy.
From understanding the challenges of potential customers and researching keywords, to brainstorming topic areas and link building, there’s no shortage of things to do when it comes to developing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy for a brand-new business.
If building an SEO strategy is new to you, it can be a complicated and time-consuming task. It requires content, keywords and an in-depth understanding of your target audience.
In this blog, we’ll explain the process of creating an SEO strategy for a new business from start to finish – as well as provide some actionable tips to make it easier.
Start by brainstorming topic areas
“Keywords are at the heart of SEO, but they’re not your first step to an organic growth play anymore.” – HubSpot
Search engines have changed.
Influential search engines like Google have changed their algorithm to favour topic-based content, rather than content optimised for individual keyword terms.
What this means is that instead of creating a single piece of content optimised for a single keyword, you need to think about creating topics that answer a number of questions related to that topic in depth.
HubSpot calls this the topic cluster approach – and we love it.
In a topic cluster model, a single ‘pillar’ page acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic. That pillar page is then supported by sub topic content related to the main topic; for example, if the main topic was, say, ‘Things to do in New York’, then the sub topic content could be: ‘The top attractions in New York’ and ‘How to travel around New York in four days’. Think about the tactics that make up a strategy – or what an eBook laid out as a web page might look like and that’s a topic cluster!
These sub topics answer a specific question referenced on the pillar page in depth and are optimised for long-tail keyword terms (leading to targeted traffic arriving on the page). They link to and from the central pillar page, meaning any SEO value generated is shared evenly amongst the linked pages.. This signals to Google that the page is an authoritative source of– which is very good for your site!
Without going further into the methodology, from the offset you need to think about topic areas you would like to own that are related to what you do or sell. These topics can be broad as you’ll drill down into them in the next phase. Think about the terms you want to rank for.
Do keyword research based on topic areas
“Keyword research impacts every other SEO task that you perform, including finding content topics, on-page SEO, outreach and promotion.” – Backlinko
After brainstorming and agreeing on your topic areas, the next step is identifying long-tail keyword terms that dig deeper into each respective topic.
These long-tail keyword terms will help to drive targeted traffic back to your website (as the people who type in these terms are more likely to be interested in what you provide).
For example, if you provide cyber security, cyber security would be your main topic/pillar page – and your sub topics could be things like ‘small business cyber security’, ‘improving cyber security in a small business’, ‘the best cyber security solutions for small businesses’.
Of course, the actual title of the sub topics will depend on your keyword research but – in essence – these sub topics will answer the main questions that people have around your particular offering.
Fire up a search using a keyword planning tool – such as Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner – to see if people are actually searching for these topics and the level of competition. Ideally, you want to target long-tail keyword terms that have high search volume and low to medium competition as this will give you the best chance of ranking highly.
As you check out your long-tail terms using a keyword tool – don’t forget to note down variations of the term. You might find that whilst your specific term isn’t being searched, there’s another, similar term that people are using. Eventually you should reach a point where you have a number of keywords for each sub topic.
Build pages for each topic
"The benefit of this model, in addition to organising your site architecture, is that one high-performing cluster page can elevate search rankings for all the other pages linked to the same pillar." – HubSpot
The next step is to build pages for each broad topic (or pillar page) you agreed on. Each pillar page will target a broad keyword term with high search volume – but the individual pages it links to will target long-tail keyword terms with low competition. Your keyword research should help you to determine how many clusters you can create.
The idea is that as these sub topics/cluster pages generate traffic, the value of those pages is shared evenly amongst the entire pillar, helping to improve your website’s ranking for broader keyword terms – making you an authority on all of those pages.
Using this approach, it becomes possible for a business to rank for very competitive terms over a period of time. It’s a long-term strategy but it’s one that will continue to deliver results and stand the test of time after your marketing campaigns end.
These pillar pages should also be updated on a regular basis to include new information or answers to the questions your prospects are asking. You should also create new sub topic content that answers those questions in depth and links to the relevant pillar page.
Blog frequently to develop page authority
"If you want to take a serious stake online to display your passion and knowledge, then a self-hosted blog with your own domain name is the clever way to proceed." - Jeff Bullas
As mentioned previously, your pillar pages should be updated on a regular basis to include new information – this means blogging frequently.
Every new blog you create is another web page that gives you a chance to rank highly on search engine results pages.
Also, blogging frequently and linking blogs to your pillar pages will help to develop their authority (the more quality links a page has pointing to it, the more value Google sees in it).
Of course, focusing on your pillar page strategy is crucial but it’s also important to not forget about the content that your prospects want to see. Make sure that you also create content that resonates with your target audience and actually provides value – don’t write purely for search engines – otherwise you’ll alienate your audience very quickly.
Asking prospects and existing customers what they would like to see on your website – or asking them about the problems they are facing right now – is a great way to find out what content to generate!
Off-page SEO strategy
"By imagining your website as a home you'd like people to visit, it's easier to see the value of off-site SEO." - Moz
One of the best ways to improve your website’s SEO is to secure inbound links – also known as ‘backlinks’.
Inbound links are basically when other websites link to yours. The greater the domain authority of the website linking to a page on your website, the greater the affect it has on its search ranking.
Of course, gaining inbound links is a long-term strategy and isn’t an easy fix. It’s not as simple as asking the owner of a high-domain authority website to link to your website.
Instead, think about ways to earn these links naturally. Asking guest bloggers and influencers to share your content (and you in turn share theirs) is one way to gain good links back to your website.
That’s everything. Hopefully by reading this blog you will have gained a better understanding of creating an SEO strategy for your business. It can take some time to plan and execute such a strategy but the long-term benefits of doing so are tremendous.