Pick an area of SEO that helps and you’ll see a hundred blog posts talking about it in a demonstrative way as if doing that thing is the answer. As if that proves that whoever is behind it has the silver bullet.

I’m not here to throw shade, but what I’m trying to get across is that winning in SEO these days takes a lot of work. More work than these little tips afford, and more than your typical web designer does.

Tools can amplify your efforts, but anyone holding up a tool like that’s where SEO comes from doesn’t really understand SEO. For me to be real with you, there’s no way to talk about this without saying that.

There’s foundational stuff that you might call the core of any good website design. The kind of stuff where launching without it is a real missed opportunity.

I’d call NAP (name, address, and phone number) part of that. A clearly defined block that shows the major contact info for a business — stuff that’s consistent everywhere on the web that business shows up — is a good move. Not having it is making things harder for yourself.

But here’s the thing. It’s also a level 1 SEO bullet item, just like meta titles and descriptions. It’s the stuff you need to do so you’re not missing anything, but it’s not the thing that makes you win.

SEO Is Cumulative, It Takes Time, and It Requires Strategy.

SEO pro working at the laptop building his skills

It’s not a “set it and forget” kind of thing. The only parts of SEO that are that way are the level 1 things. Indeed, those things you pretty much set up once and don’t usually have to change a whole lot afterward other than tweaks for further improvements.

But even those improvements are driven by an ongoing strategy → by studying data month to month → by drawing educated conclusions based on years of trial and error.

Everything about your site has to contribute to that. No one thing is the thing that says to Google, “This is the site!”

Prioritizing Ranking Queries and Content Plans

Simple keyword research is grabbing a list of industry-related keywords with decent search volume, but I’d urge anyone not to stop there.

Most of your competitors are doing the same, which means you’ll all be chasing the same keywords because of the big numbers.

In the beginning, however, I usually advise people to take another route. Most of those keywords will be a 6+ month goal. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, but it’s not something I bank on.

“What’s stuff that I could work on this month or for the next 60 days and get something from relatively quickly?”

That’s the question.

To actually accomplish that, you can focus on things like:

  • Top questions people are asking related to your offerings, but with more cunning than competition. You can visit places like AnswerThePublic.com or follow some of the tips I mentioned in the link earlier in this section.
  • Stories about what you’ve learned or where some of your big successes have come from.
  • Considering the top customer segments that could use your services and crafting specific material aimed at each of them, being creative with the ways your services benefit their particular processes. Base your examples on experiences, and be as specific as you can.
  • Picking some low traffic, low competition search terms to optimize for.

These approaches produce because:

  • This type of content tends to rank for other questions people are asking, even if they aren’t questions with big, lofty search numbers. These are often not things competitors chasing big numbers bother with, so you can rank more quickly for them.
  • This type of content, when well executed, allows you to showcase your genuineness and sincerity. That’s compelling in itself, but can also contribute to your thought leadership over time. That’s a big piece of ranking for tougher queries.
  • Another piece of your website’s authority comes from authority. There are several components that feed into that, but a fairly surefire piece of that is covering your core industry comprehensively. The above types of content are crucial toward that bigger picture goal. A lot of sites cover some of those topics superficially, which is why you see so much fluff and also why so many websites don’t rank like they could.

Once you build some genuine trust and authority it elevates all of your site’s content. Once you rank for a handful of things relatively well, the fact that your site ranks for those things registers for new content you create. That new content starts getting picked up faster and ranked more seriously.

That bit is why intentionally targeting low traffic, low competition keywords can still be helpful. Apart from it being true that some of those sorts of queries are still high buying intention queries, it’s also a way to rack up some quick ranking wins and elevate other query opportunities.

I find that once a website gains some traction in these ways, gets some leads and makes some money, it’s far easier to change gears into some more ambitious and longer term goals.

SEO pro presenting great results to a client

Not only will those tougher keywords be easier going forward, but sticking with the required grind to get there won’t be as frustrating when the site is winning in other ways.

Had you started with these latter goals initially, it’d instead feel like a lot of work and not a lot of payoff.

There’s a lot more I could say about all of this, but hopefully this is helpful and hopefully it demonstrates the initial point well. This kind of thinking and effort are what real SEO is about, and none of that happens just by checking some one-off boxes.