Search engine optimization (SEO) is relatively simple in its core concept; provide a better, more relevant experience to your users, and you’ll rank higher in the search engines. However, there’s a lot of depth to the strategies and tactics you can use to make that happen, including detailed content strategy plans, highly coordinated offsite efforts, and tie-ins with peripheral strategies like email and social media.
The Flip Side of Technological AdvancementWhile these extra efforts are oftentimes fruitful, they also come with additional burdens. You’ll spend more time and money on them, to be certain, but you might also be complicating your strategy to the point that it starts to confuse you. At that point, you may be doing more harm than good.
This trend isn’t limited to SEO, either—it’s at least partially the product of technology becoming almost too advanced. According to Dialpad, the majority of businesses in 2017 will be working on minimizing the number of technological products they rely on, rather than seeking more. They aren’t eliminating technology; instead, they’re focusing on utilizing only the best technologies, with as little redundancy and confusion as possible—and that’s exactly what we want to do for SEO.
How to Simplify Your SEO StrategyThese are some of the best ways to keep your SEO strategy as simple and effective as possible:
1. Write better content for your readers. Obviously, one of the most important components of SEO is your content marketing strategy. The value and appearance of your content are probably the single biggest determining factor to your SEO success, responsible not only for your authority but also the number of links you earn. As Neil Patel points out, however, you shouldn’t spend so much time optimizing your content for search engines—instead, you should optimize for your readers. Focus on what they would like to read, rather than what you think a search engine would like to see. You’ll end up seeing better results that way.
2. Cut your plugins, tools, and dashboards. There are hundreds of amazing tools out there to help you with your SEO campaign, including plugins for your site, research tools to help you form better strategies, and dashboards to help you track your results. These are all effective ways to improve your efficiency, but if you try to use all of them simultaneously, you’ll end up confusing your efforts. Do you really need three different dashboards to tell you how your campaign is performing? Try cutting the number of tools you use down to what’s absolutely necessary.
3. Simplify your keyword research. According to Kissmetrics, many optimizers lose precious time when exhaustively researching potential keywords and phrases to target. This remains one of the most important elements of any SEO strategy, but that doesn’t mean it has to eat up all your time. Instead of digging into details, generating lists of thousands of potential phrases and ensuring they each appear a certain number of times, focus on high-level targets. Choose a handful of good contenders—they don’t have to be perfect—and build your strategy around them. Besides, after Hummingbird, overly precise keyword targets won’t help you perform any better.
4. Only report on a handful of key metrics. There are dozens of performance indicators you could conceivably track to determine your progress and set a course for your strategy’s future. However, if you report on too many metrics, you’ll start noticing contradictions and fuzzier lines between the numbers. Instead of targeting all these metrics at once, narrow your focus to only a handful of them. Establish early on which metrics are going to mean “success” for your business, and zoom in on them.
5. Stop worrying about daily fluctuations. You care about your business and you want your SEO strategy to do well. However, monitoring your progress on a daily basis is only going to drive you crazy. There are hundreds of tiny factors that can affect where and how you rank, and most of them result in changes that are so small, they should remain imperceptible. Instead of checking in on your campaign with this level of regularity, zoom out and focus on bigger, broader changes. For most small businesses, once a week is more than enough, and once a month is often a better fit.
None of this is to say that spending less time on your SEO strategy is a good thing; in fact, investing more heavily in efforts like writing content and building links will almost certainly pay off. The goal isn’t to reduce your efforts entirely, but to reduce your scope to only the strategies that are most efficient.
The more efficient you are in your work, the higher ROI you’re likely to see.
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