Strategic Integration and the Search Engine Optimization Formula that Always Seems to Work

by Jason Acidre on July 25, 2012 · 31 comments · Search

A solid strategy is always a brainchild of a strong, persistent and flexible mindset. A mindset that can both strictly implement needed actions and agile enough to adapt to sudden changes. Though more often than not, many of us, particularly thinkers, are in search of a single solution or a formula that can withstand different kinds of situations.

Is that possible in this industry? The truth is I’m not really that sure, people will really try to tear me apart when I say that a one-size-fits-all strategy does exist. But, there is one formula that I believe has been working for so long, for so many websites, that I think many aren’t aware of or maybe know it but wouldn’t just bank on that idea.

SEO Formula that always seems to work

The process that I’m about to share is quite basic, and I’m kind of sure that most of you wouldn’t be that surprised. Although, the best thing about this process is that it can work on any type of website, whether it’s old or new, big or small, ecommerce, affiliate, blog or on just a simple business website.

So how does this formula work? It’s actually more on the principle behind your on-site and off-site optimization, wherein the 2 most important aspects of SEO will strongly put emphasis on:

  • An effective site structure and information architecture, which is the part that will focus on getting your site’s pages better search rankings.
  • Acquiring links mainly for visibility and indexation, not rankings. This means your link building efforts will not depend on anchor texts and link attributes, but rather be used as means to keep the site regularly crawled and indexed in order to support the on-site changes that will be constantly implemented.

Basically, you’ll put more effort in continuously tweaking, analyzing and improving the site itself, instead of forcing your way to the top rankings through link building, because it will only lead your campaign to spamming (or manipulating search engines).

With this approach, you’ll have the on-site optimization part slowly build your site’s search rankings on a domain-level (pulling all other deeper pages to rank as well), by simply gauging your top competitors’ ranking pages’ content against yours (then overcoming their content) as well as in building a light tunnel for search crawlers so they can easily access your pages to be indexed and be ranked.

Whereas the link building part will only serve as a support in allowing search engines to see frequent changes occurring in your site. Of course the passing of authority will also come in along the process, which I’ll be discussing more below.

On-site structuring and information architecture

There are actually ton of things that you can do to optimize your site’s blueprint for search. Though some might have minor effects and others may bring major impact to your site’s search rankings. But the main point is to focus on the accessibility of your site to both users and search engines.

Here are some of the important on-site optimizations that you will really need to weave on to your site:

Keyword Mapping

Designate keywords to pages where they are absolutely relevant. Then optimize each page for those keywords by using or mentioning them on the pages’ titles, URLs, headlines and most especially – within the content.

You can also target multiple keywords for a single content, wherein you can use and optimize the page for both head terms and some of its near long-tail keywords (this is also best to reduce the chances cannibalizing your keywords – or overusing the same keywords on separate webpages which might confuse search engines in understanding which page is more important).

Generate a list of your campaign’s targeted keywords (from head terms to long tails). You can use Google Keyword Tool in executing this task. Then segment your keywords based on categories, so you can easily see where your keywords will most-likely fit when implementing them to your site’s pages.

Block crawlers from accessing thin and possible duplicate pages of the site

It’s also important that you disallow search engines from indexing pages of your site that might not be relevant to users such as your site/blog’s tags and search result pages, as well as duplicate pages that might cause confusion to crawlers including URL versions (www and non-www) and paginations. These pages may affect your site’s overall ability to rank on search results, as they add little to no value to searchers.

You can easily block crawlers in accessing your site’s thin (poor content) pages by disallowing access to the URL of the page(s) or the folder where they are contained via Robots.txt. Adding the noindex tag to individual pages is also another option for this task.

Relevantly linking your pages internally/contextually

As always, internal linking is a big factor when it comes to helping your pages rank better on search results, given that these links make sure that every page of your site will be visited by search crawlers as they travel through the links within your site pointing to one to another.

Use them to your advantage by not just internally linking because a relevant page’s keyword was mentioned, but instead “talk about” the other page(s) of your site from your other pages. That element of context will add and pass more value, and it will also allow you to naturally come up with variations for your internal links’ anchor texts.

Setting the pages’ hierarchy and levels of priorities

Identify which pages you want to be more visible to search engines and to your site’s visitors. These pages could be your high-converting landing pages, prized content that allows you to generate subscribers/leads (content assets) or your categories that links down to your site’s deeper pages.

Include these pages to your site’s navigation (or secondary navigation menu) to make search engines know how important these pages are. You can also point more internal links to these pages to improve visibility and to pass more link value to them.

Optimizing site speed

Use Google Labs’ Page Speed Insights to track your site and its pages’ loading time, as this part of the optimization process will increase the crawlability of the site, which is definitely good for site indexation.

For more in-depth tips on sitewide optimization, you can check out Steve Webb‘s post on SEOmoz on technical SEO audit and Dave Sottimano’s post on finding a site’s biggest technical flaws.

Target low-hanging fruit in link building

At the initial stages of the campaign, you wouldn’t really need fancy links (though you’d definitely still have to aim for those), because you’ll just need links that will allow your site to be more visible to your target audience, and of course be followed by search crawlers so they can index your site and see the constant changes happening in it.

Start with the easy-to-get links first. Several methods that you can use in building branded links to your site:

Business and local directories

There are so many “quality” web directories out there where you can submit your site for placements, and even SEOmoz has listed 400+ of those directories. Use these directories to mainly send search engine bots to your site.

You can also use Google Search in finding good local/business web directories. Evaluate and sift through the directories that you’ll find through the search results by basing it on domain and content-level metrics such as their traffic stats, site’s design and domain authority (DA).

Brand profile pages

Brand pages from popular social networking sites are also a good way to build links that will get your site regularly indexed, since these sites are regularly crawled by search engines. Some of the sites that you can build a brand page/profile from:

Easy-to penetrate sites for Guest Blogging

Many sites on almost any industry that continuously look for guest authors to run their blogs efficiently in terms of generating content on a regular basis. Take advantage of these sites, as you’ll have better chances of landing live guest posts with links to your site’s important pages.

Several ways in finding guest blogging opportunities (where it’s easy to get your guest entry published):

Link reclamation

If you’re business is doing offline marketing, or you have events, products or services being offered offline, then this might come in handy when you start getting easy to acquire links for your site.

Find brand mentions (your brand, product, event or personal brand) that didn’t result to link(s) to your site, as you can easily translate these into hard-to-replicate links (that can extremely pass ranking as well as business value to your site).

Some of the methods that you can use in searching for non-link or un-optimized brand mentions are:

  • Using Google’s Blog Search – search for your brand and set the time to past month or you may also choose to use the “custom range” feature, so you can filter the results by recency.
  • Go through the results and see if every page that has mentioned your brand has properly linked to your site, because if you see some, you’ll have a good reason to contact them and easily grab a link from them.
  • Find links to your site that use the wrong URL version. Optimize these links by requesting for these links to be changed into your preferred URL version.
  • Use Google Images Search or Tineye to search for your sites that might have used your original images or business logo with no link attribution or credit to your site. Get them to link to you.
  • Setup a Google Alerts for your branded keywords, original content (infographics, videos, content assets, etc…) to monitor future brand mentions.

Social link building

Track people who have shared your content or have mentioned your brand on social networks, especially on Twitter. Make a list of them and see who manage blogs/websites, as you’ll have better response and approval rate when you start asking links (guest posting, resource links, etc…) from them, since they already know who you are.

In finding people who have mentioned your brand or products on Twitter, you can use Google search with this query:

You can also use Topsy to monitor brand mentions as well as the people who have socially shared any page of your website.

Competitor link analysis

Get insights on how your competitors are getting their links and where. Then replicate those that you can easily acquire. There are lots of tools that you can use to accomplish this task like, Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO. Export and create a list of your top competitors’ links and start hunting for the easy-to-get links that they all have been obtaining.

Continuously tweak and improve the content of the pages competing on SERPs

After having most of your site’s pages being indexed by search engines, some of them may start getting ranked on search results (could be within the top 100 or not). Once some of your major keywords are on this space, it would be best to fight your way up through content competitive analysis/intelligence or to simply optimize their content (continuously test what’s pushing them up), instead of fighting your way through the amount of links you and your competitors are getting.

Start by assessing your top competitors’ content, analyze each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses in a content-level (do they missed something or do they lack visuals?). Then try to outdo them by improving your pages’ content to deliver more information and usability than them.

Other aspects of the content that you can continuously improve other than the content itself is the amount of supporting internal pages linking to it. So you can choose to continuously add more valuable pages that will support your pages aiming to get better positions on search results.

What’s next? Strategic Integration

Once your site has already a strong footing with its SEO after a month or two, then it’s best to start working on/merging other marketing channels that fit your business needs, seeing that all these channels can help on another (offline, social, SEO, etc…). Possible routes for your online marketing campaign will most likely revolve around the following practices:

Building alliances and networking

Having peers in your industry’s online community is certainly an asset that you can benefit from for a very long time. May it be in terms of getting traffic or business referrals from them, absorbing their loyal followers, and getting high-end links from their site’s content.

Invest on content marketing and social media campaigns to gain more brand exposure and earn more hard-to-replicate links.

Along the way of optimizing your business over the web and search, discovering more keywords to target for your campaign will be inevitable. And as always, the best way to get new keywords for your site is through creating new content that will cover those particular interests/topics, which should be hosted within your domain.

Lead nurturing and email marketing

It’s vital to create funnels that will allow you to steadily grow your business’ customer/client base through targeted lead generation and sending out targeted messages to them.

UX and Conversion Rate Optimization

Given that you’ll be sending more traffic to your site through all the marketing efforts that you’ll be doing for your business, maximizing the existing traffic, retaining your visitors and aiming to have them take actions or increase the site’s conversions will be the prime objectives of the campaign. Because at the end of the day, it’s all going to be about making your business bigger and better.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Special shout out to Nick Eubanks for inspiring me to write this post (I actually remembered this when I saw that he mentioned an old post of mine on his recent post). 

Image Credit: Tea, two sugars

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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