When I started in marketing, I had a mentor who used to tell me, “If there is only one thing that you want to do in marketing, it better be Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” To this day, this advice remains invaluable and every digital marketer should focus on this.

However, most digital marketers start on SEO and they lose steam sooner than later. Then, they put their hands up and say that SEO doesn’t seem to work at all for their business. It takes at least a minimum of 6 months before results start to show up and most marketers don’t wait till such time.

The key aspects of SEO are that it takes time, it is a long-term strategy and every effort that you put into it is worth your time.

Having said that SEO is long-term and it requires patience, how do I go about doing this right?

Well… there are no quick fixes and search engines are too smart to see through the quick fixes. You have to focus on making sure that your visitors find information that is relevant and useful on your website, in addition to doing all the website housekeeping like no broken links, defining tags and alt-tags, optimizing it for different browsers, mobile and handheld devices.

What are the key strategies that you should consider when you want to optimize your site for Search Engines?

  1. Identify your target market

Figure out who your target market is and identify the kind of messages that interests them. This would allow you to look at appropriate keywords for which you can optimize your website.

Never begin optimizing your website if you don’t have the target market clearly defined.

  • Filter your search terms

You can’t compete with the giants that are already there and who have optimized their site for too long. Hence, pick your battles appropriately and filter the keywords properly – identify search terms that have low competition and try to optimize your website for them.

Don’t go with a whole bunch of generic search terms, which would be a brain-numbing task for you to get them optimized.

  • Local search needs optimization

Google updates search listing for geographical areas faster than industry categories. Add city and state names, street addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, driving directions, and create location-specific pages for every branch while keeping it consistent with all your other properties like social and other online platforms

  • Perform Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in addition to SEO

Search ads can complement your SEO efforts easily. SEM is short-term and can help you get traction on your website immediately, while SEO is long-term. In an ideal world, do SEM for the first 6 months and SEO takes over from there.

However, if SEM works well, you might as well continue running them parallel to your SEO efforts.

  • Voice search is the future

With the advent of Alexa, Siri and OK Google, 20% of the searches have been voice searches. Optimization your website for voice is not straightforward and you need to perform the following smarts to do that:

  • Most voice searches are for local businesses. Ensure that you have an updated Google My Business profile with name, hours, street address and other relevant information
  • Create location-specific pages that would show up in voice searches
  • Keep your content conversational in your copy as it is more likely to be picked up by the search engines
  • Design for mobile as the mobile metadata is what is used in your voice search
  • Convert your keywords into questions. Instead of ‘Gym Equipment,’ change it to ‘Where can I find Gym Equipment near me?’
  • Use long-tail keywords as they are more likely to figure in voice searches instead of the short ones that you target for your web and mobile

Make sure that you audit your website at regular intervals to ensure that you don’t have issues like broken HTML, broken links, and badly crafted keywords. You can use tools like Ubersuggest for your keyword suggestions and AnwerThePublic for long-tail keywords. This would allow you to include them organically as a part of your content.

Tags: Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Search Engine Marketing, SEM, Voice Search, Localized Search, mobile metadata, Local Search