Contrary to the annual obituaries declaring it’s dead, SEO remains alive and well–and as critically important to your business as ever. About half of web traffic is still driven by organic search–valuable visitors to your web properties and content that you can convert into customers. But to get your slice of the online traffic pie, you must have consistently high search rankings–and that requires outstanding SEO strategy and execution.
The SEO of today is incredibly complex; simply sliding a few keywords into your homepage isn’t going to cut it any more. There are innumerable factors–online and off, technical and practical–that influence your rankings. Your approach must be equally nuanced and elaborate if you want to end up at the top of the list.
Where should you start? Moz, an industry authority on SEO, releases a report of the most important factors in search rankings every year based on a survey of leading experts. Here’s what the report looked like this year, featuring the nine most influential factors each ranked on a scale of 1-10.
Each of these factors requires a different approach, and a different kind of talent to complete. Luckily, they can all be supported with collaborate use of internal talent and digital marketing staffing. Here’s the expertise you need to look for to get ahead of the competition on SEO’s most important contributors and earn a spot at the top of the search results pages.
Domain and Page-Level Link Features
Link strategy, both within your site and externally from other reputable sites, is still considered one of the most critical aspects of SEO today. In general, link-building, site mapping, and page optimization all require the dedicated hand of experienced SEO staffing and management to execute. These are very elaborate processes to do right, and poor execution can be punished with a drop in the rankings.
The ins and outs of link features are best left to specially-focused SEO masters. If necessary, consider working with SEO consultants for a comprehensive evaluation and recommendations which your SEO staffing can then carry out.
Page-Level Keyword and Content-Based Features
Here’s where the rest of the team outside of dedicated SEO staffing resources can start contributing. Highly relevant, valuable and targeted content has skyrocketed in value recently as search engines have gotten better at distinguishing great web pages and determining the context of keywords.
Here it pays to be particularly selective about your choice of creative staffing and inbound marketing staffing. It’s incredibly important to find copywriters and content creators who are comfortable with writing and creating heavily optimized content. In particular, hunt for writers who can organically include a healthy variety of valuable keyword variations into site page copy, blog posts, video scripts, and other web content.
Page-Level Keyword-Agnostic Features
These facets of SEO require a true team effort. Your copywriting staffing must be creating page copy in a format and length that aligns with best practices in coordination with your SEO staffing‘s recommendations. Meanwhile, your web developers must heavily optimize your site to minimize load times and make your properties secure. And your mobile marketing staffing must ensure all your content is flexible and responsive, ready to be viewed on any screen at any time.
Engagement and Traffic/Query Data
This SEO pillar requires a slightly different approach. Here you’ll primarily need exceptional design and user experience (UX) staffing to draw visitors to your site and motivate them to stick around rather than bounce. Outstanding web analytics tools–along with talented analytics staff who know how to make full use of them–will help evaluate what visitors respond to and make recommendations for optimization.
Domain-Level Brand Metrics
Modern search engines have become sophisticated enough to integrate “offline” conversations about your brand into their rankings, and have been shown to favor well-established brands or organizations that generate a lot of buzz. This is where your branding and public relations teams come into play. A well-developed brand strategy supported by excellent PR staffing and leadership will help keep your organization in the media spotlight and the public eye, and that will translate to better search rankings.
Domain-Level Keyword Usage
Your SEO staffing should take the lead on the big-picture keyword strategy, determining where and how often certain keyword groups should be used. It’s important that they work closely with your creative staffing to ensure they take every opportunity to organically include partial and related keywords throughout the site to support your primary keyword strategy.
Domain-Level Keyword-Agnostic Features
Here again you really need dedicated SEO expertise at the helm, working hand in hand with adept web development staffing to optimize the foundation of your site according to modern best practices. They should also work with your content marketing staffing to establish policies for coding, security, and URL structuring as new pages are created over time.
Page-Level Social Metrics
The relationship of social media activity and SEO is relatively new, but it’s one that has grown rapidly in importance and measurability. A healthy volume of social mentions, shares, likes and more has been shown to correlate strongly with a rise in page rank. And some search engines are moving toward featuring social media accounts (like Google+ pages) and posts (like Tweets) directly on search engine results pages.
This is why it’s important to have access to cutting-edge social media management staffing and tools to monitor your brand’s accounts, generate buzz, foster community engagement, and drive traffic to support your SEO.