Creating an Effective SEO Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide

In this post, you’ll learn how to create and implement an effective SEO strategy, step by step.

This approach has helped me grow my website to 362,732 organic visitors every month:


What Is an SEO Strategy?

An SEO strategy is a plan to create, optimize, and promote content to enhance its visibility in search engine results, thereby attracting more organic traffic to a website. It encompasses various techniques, including keyword research, on-page optimization, technical SEO, and link building.



Google search suggestions


Step #1: Compile a List of Keywords

Keyword research is typically the initial phase of any effective SEO strategy.

One of the most reliable methods to discover keywords that your target audience uses is Google Suggest.

Simply start typing a keyword into Google’s search bar, and you’ll see a list of suggestions:

These suggestions are valuable because they come directly from Google, indicating that people are actively searching for them.

Additionally, longer keywords (known as “long tail keywords”) tend to be less competitive compared to “short tail” terms.


![Long tail keywords] While long tail keywords may have lower search volumes, they are generally easier to rank for.


Long tail keywords



It’s a good idea to type a few different keywords into Google until you have a list of around 10 keywords.

To check the search volume and competition levels for these terms, you can use tools like Semrush or Ubersuggest.


![SEMrush and Ubersuggest] For more in-depth keyword research, you can watch this video.


SEMrush and Ubersuggest



Once you have your list of 10 keywords, move on to step #2.


Step #2: Examine Google’s First Page

After identifying a set of keywords, the next step is to see who currently ranks for those keywords.


Google search – Paleo desserts



Type one of the keywords into Google.

Look at the top 10 results:

Take note of any patterns you observe.

For example, if the search results for “SEO Tools” are filled with lists of tools:


SEO tools – List posts in SERP



If you want to cover that topic on your site, it’s essential to note that the first page results consist mainly of list posts. Thus, you should consider publishing a list post on your blog.


Step #3: Determine Your Competitors

For SEO competitor analysis, Semrush is my preferred tool. It simplifies the process and saves time.

Start by clicking on “Domain Overview” and entering your URL:


Enter your domain for an overview


Scroll down to find the section labeled “Main Organic Competitors.”



![Competitor Analysis 2] These are websites that rank for similar keywords and target similar audiences as you do.

Click on the “View all…” button to see all your competitors along with detailed information.


You can examine the number of common keywords you share with these sites and the amount of traffic they generate:

The “Common Keywords” section is particularly useful as it shows the total number of keywords you share with each site.


Common keywords and traffic generated



Sites with a high number of common keywords should be considered your competitors.


Step #4: Create Unique or Superior Content

Now it’s time to develop high-quality content that stands out.

For SEO content, you have two main approaches:

  1. Create something different.
  2. Create something better.


Existing mobile SEO content


Sometimes, you’ll want to produce content that’s bigger and better than what’s already available, known as the Skyscraper Technique. Other times, creating content that’s entirely different can be more effective, helping your content stand out from the competition.


Why Stand Out?

Creating distinct content can be particularly beneficial because it differentiates your material from others, making it more noticeable and engaging.


Example: When I was optimizing content for the keyword “Mobile SEO,” I noticed that the first page of Google was filled with list posts such as “X Ways to Mobile Optimize Your Site.”

Instead of creating a longer list post like “150 Ways to Mobile Optimize Your Site,” which wouldn’t add much value, I chose a different approach. I published an ultimate guide to mobile optimization.

Because this content was unique, it garnered a significant amount of shares:

Received numerous comments:

And most importantly, attracted many backlinks:


Creating Superior Content


Ahrefs – Mobile SEO guide – Backlinks


If you aim to create content that’s simply better than what ranks on the first page of Google, strive to make it 10x better.

Example: I observed that most articles about “SEO tools” listed only 10-20 tools. Realizing that another similar list wouldn’t stand out, I compiled a comprehensive list of 177 SEO tools.

This strategy helped my post rank in the top 3 for the keyword “SEO Tools.”


Google SERP – SEO tools


By choosing to either create something uniquely different or significantly better, your content is more likely to capture attention, engagement, and high rankings.


Step #5: Hook

To enhance your search engine rankings in 2024, securing backlinks is essential.


Quadratic mean spearman correlation


In fact, a study by Stone Temple Consulting, published on the Moz blog, highlights that links are still highly correlated with first-page Google rankings.

![Quadratic mean spearman correlation] This indicates that backlinks remain a critical Google ranking factor.



So, how do you acquire these backlinks?

You need to understand why people link to specific pieces of content in your industry, often referred to as “The Hook.” Then, integrate that “Hook” into your content.


Real-Life Example:

Recently, I noticed an increasing number of bloggers writing about voice search.


Bloggers writing about voice search


![Bloggers writing about voice search] I also observed that when people wrote about voice search, they linked to content featuring stats and data.

So, I conducted a voice search study filled with statistics:

date, this single post has accumulated 3.4K backlinks:


Voice search SEO study – Backlinks


![Voice search SEO study – Backlinks] Over 90% of these backlinks cite a specific statistic from my post.

![Backlinks cite specific stats from post] However, data is just one type of “Hook” you can use to attract links to your content.

Another effective Hook is publishing ultimate guides.

When you release an ultimate guide, the guide itself becomes the Hook.



A few years ago, I published “Link Building: The Definitive Guide.”

It remains the most comprehensive guide to link building available.

Occasionally, bloggers will mention “link building” in their posts but may not have the space to cover the entire topic. So, they link to my guide, providing their readers with a resource to learn more:

Very cool.


Step #6: Optimize for On-Page SEO

This step focuses on keyword-optimizing your content for SEO.

On-page SEO encompasses more than can be covered in a single post.


Bloggers link out to my guide


If you want to learn more about optimizing your content for SEO, this video can help.

This step focuses on keyword-optimizing your content for SEO.

While on-page SEO encompasses a broad range of techniques, here are three core strategies to prioritize in 2024:


Internal Linking

Internal linking remains a powerful strategy when executed correctly.


High authority pages


The key is to link from high-authority web pages to those that need more authority.

]For example, I published “Google Search Console: The Definitive Guide” a few years ago.

]I then identified a high-authority page on my site…

![Digital Media Studio – Google ranking factors] …and linked it to my new guide.

![Google Ranking Factors post – Link to guide] It’s straightforward yet effective.


Short, Keyword-Rich URLs

Our analysis of 8.9 million Google search results revealed a significant finding: short URLs tend to outperform longer ones in search engine rankings.


"Google Ranking Factors" post – Link to guide


![Short URLs tend to outrank long URLs] That’s why I structure my URLs to be concise, either using just the keyword…

![SEO Checklist – URL] …or the target keyword plus one additional word:

![Backlinks Guide – URL] Both methods are effective.


Semantic SEO

Lastly, I focus on optimizing my content for Semantic SEO. This involves identifying words related to my target keyword and incorporating them into my content.


Enter keyword into Google Images


To do this, type your target keyword into Google Images.

![Enter keyword into Google Images] Google will suggest related words and phrases:

![Google Images – Related terms] Then, type the same keyword into a standard Google search and scroll down to the “Searches related to…” section.

![SEO audit – Searches related to] Incorporate these related terms into your content:

And you’re set.


Step #7: Optimize for Search Intent

This step is about ensuring your content aligns with the search intent behind the keywords you’re targeting, essentially The Skyscraper Technique 2.0.


"Increase Website Traffic" – Existing content



A few years ago, I wrote a post about increasing website traffic.

It performed reasonably well but never reached the top 5 for my target keyword (“increase website traffic”).

Upon analyzing Google’s first page, I realized my page did not meet the search intent for that keyword.

Most of the top-ranking content provided bite-sized traffic tips.

However, my post presented a high-level process.

![Digital Media Studio – Increase website traffic post – High-level process] This wasn’t the user experience search engine visitors wanted. So I revised my content to align with the search intent.



I transformed my process into a list post:

![Increase Website traffic is now a list post] As a result, my content ranked in the top 3 for my target keyword:


"increase website traffic" SERPs


This led to a 70.43% increase in search engine traffic compared to the old version of the post:

You should publish content with search intent in mind from the start.


For instance, in my post “The Ultimate SEO Audit”:

I noticed that most content ranking for “SEO Audit” included non-technical steps.


Increase Website Traffic – Organic traffic boost



![SEO Audit – Existing content – Non-technical steps] So, I provided simple strategies that anyone could use:

![SEO site audit – Post steps] This optimization for search intent helped my post reach the first page of Google within a month.



Step #8: Focus on Content Design

Content design might be the most underrated aspect of content marketing.

Bad website


You can have the best content ever written, but if it looks like this…

![Bad website] …it’s unlikely to gain much traction.

That’s why I invest a significant portion of my marketing budget into content design.

For instance, you’ve probably seen one of my definitive guides:

![Digital Media Studio – Local SEO guide] These guides are designed and coded 100% from scratch using WordPress, which makes them costly to produce.


That said, great content design doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are four types of visual content that are easy to implement:

Graphs and Charts

Including graphs and charts in your content can significantly enhance its clarity and appeal. I aim to include at least one chart in every post.

Include at least one chart in every post

Why? Because they make data easy to understand.

For example, consider this stat from my mobile SEO guide:

![Stat as text] Picturing 27.8 billion of anything can be challenging. So, I had our designer create a chart to illustrate the data:

![Stat as graphic] As a bonus, people often use your charts in their blog posts and link back to you:

Stat as text


Screenshots and Pictures

I frequently use screenshots in my posts. In fact, this single post has 78 screenshots:

However, I don’t use screenshots just for the sake of using them. They’re included only when they help someone implement a specific step.

Stat as graphic

For example, these screenshots make the steps from this guide much easier to follow:

That said, screenshots are most useful for describing technical steps. For non-technical niches, like fitness, pictures can serve the same purpose.



Blog Post Banners

Unlike graphs and screenshots, blog post banners don’t serve a practical purpose but they do make your posts visually appealing.

At Digital Media Studio, we use a banner at the top of each post:

Easy to follow steps using screenshots


Graphics and Visualizations

Graphics and visualizations are similar to charts, but they visualize concepts rather than data.

For example, in a post explaining how all four versions of your site should redirect to the same URL:

This concept isn’t difficult, but it can be hard to visualize. So, our designer created a simple graphic to make it easier to understand:

Investing in content design not only makes your content more engaging but also enhances the user experience, leading to higher retention and sharing.


Step #9: Build Links to Your Page

Now it’s time to actively build links to your content. Here are three effective link-building strategies you can use today:

Brian outreach email – BlueGlass


Broken Link Building

This method involves finding broken links on other websites and suggesting your content as a replacement.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify Broken Links: Use a tool like Check My Links to find broken links on relevant websites.
  2. Reach Out: Contact the website owner or blogger, informing them of the broken link and suggesting your content as a suitable replacement.


Competitor Analysis

This classic strategy remains highly effective. Here’s how to use it:

Google SERP – Ahrefs SEO audit post

  1. Identify Competitors: Find a site that ranks for a keyword you want to target.
  2. Analyze Backlinks: Use a tool like Ahrefs to check the backlinks of your competitor’s page.
  3. Reach Out: Contact the sites linking to your competitor and suggest your content as a valuable addition.


The Evangelist Method

This strategy focuses on getting your content in front of influential people in your niche who can share and link to it.

Go through backlinks – Ahrefs

Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify Influencers: Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find people who recently shared similar content.
  2. Engage: Reach out to them, highlighting your new content and explaining why it’s valuable.

By getting your content in front of the right audience, you increase the chances of it being shared and linked to, boosting its visibility and authority.

That’s it! Let me know if there’s anything else you need.


Step #10: Enhance and Refresh Your Content

You may have heard about the success I achieved using The Content Relaunch method, which led to a remarkable increase in organic traffic:

The good news is that this strategy still yields impressive results.

For instance, I recently revamped a list of SEO techniques:

But this wasn’t just a repost of the same content under a new title.

Instead, I meticulously went through the content, removing outdated screenshots and images:

I then added new strategies to keep the content relevant and valuable:

Additionally, I pruned away strategies that were no longer effective:

Removed screenshots

The outcome?

A significant increase in organic traffic to that page:

Refreshing and improving your content can breathe new life into it, making it more valuable to your audience and attracting more organic traffic.

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