This Ask an SEO question comes from Ian from San Juan, who asks:
“What would you say should be the top SEO focus coming into 2022 for a brand that seeks to grow its wholesale product business to generate more leads and sales?”
Every year, SEO pros look for a magic bullet.
Even after 21 years, I’m still hoping to find the technique that automatically ranks a site for any query I want.
I haven’t found it yet.
And I know I never will.
But I still look.
Most SEO experts I know still look.
And we talk about the latest trends uncovered from our hours of reverse engineering efforts.
And while there are certainly “hot” techniques, I want the readers of this column to understand that the basics of SEO haven’t changed in a long time.
Rather than chase algorithm glitches that come and go as fast as your latest Google rep, I suggest getting back to the basics.
The Basics Are Still The Same
Since the advent of link-based algorithms like Google’s PageRank, the basics of search engine optimization have remained the same.
I can’t guarantee much in life – Google tells me not to offer guarantees.
But I can guarantee that if you do the following five things correctly for each query you want to rank for, you will rank for that query.
Here are what I consider the five pillars of search engine optimization:
The code of your website is the foundation of your entire marketing strategy.
The code of this site needs to be built so that search engines can easily find the great content you’ve created.
The code of your website may not make you rank – but if not done properly can keep you from ranking.
Words mean things.
The content on your website needs to be all-encompassing for your prospects.
You need to have content that works for visitors that are ready to buy, as well as those needing a little more information before making a purchase or filling out a lead form.
Your content also needs to utilize the keywords and phrases you want to rank for.
According to Google, your content needs to exude expertise, project authority, and project trust. This is commonly referred to by its culinary acronym, EAT.
Also known as link building, this is what separates a good SEO expert from a great SEO expert.
Most folks doing SEO can handle the technical side of things. Many can also create a coherent and effective content strategy.
But building links is harder.
It requires a public relations mindset armed with SEO knowledge.
Buying links is risky and I don’t recommend it.
Work to create a link strategy that builds upon itself. For a warehouse, I would initially look at my vendors and partners for links.
Then I would look to create link-worthy content that the influencers in my field would like.
Social media really doesn’t help your SEO directly, but social media is how we disseminate and amplify the great content we create.
Social media is frequently how we connect with the influencers from whom we need links.
Your communication strategy is important for SEO, even if the links from social media won’t give you a boost in Google.
Data tells you where to go.
Google Analytics itself can provide you with content ideas, UX insights, audience revelations, and more.
Spend time on your data.
Hire others to spend time on your data if you don’t know what you are seeing.
I’ve been doing SEO for 21 years, and I still frequently have another set of eyes from my team review the data to ensure I’m not missing anything.
Do these five things better than the other guy, and you will outrank him every time.
But be aware – you need to win on each query you want to rank for.
Most of us will never win that battle all the time.
And that’s one reason SEO is ongoing and not a set-it-and-forget-it tactic.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is not a new trend for 2022, but I see a lot of SEO campaigns missing the mark.
Just because the work we do as SEO professionals is sometimes technical in nature, that doesn’t mean our audience is technical.
In fact, I see far too many SEO experts thinking the audience they are targeting is just like them.
In most cases, the audience is very different from the person optimizing the site.
SEO professionals need to practice empathy in our keyword research, UX changes, content creation, and basically, everything we do.
Know your audience’s likes and dislikes.
Know their political proclivities if possible.
Know their average income, age, and gender.
Understand the best way to approach your audience.
It’s most likely different for the B2B Warehouse client than for the company selling tea or mortgage refinance.
Use the data the search engines give us, as well as your own website data, to understand your audience better.
The ROI can be significant.
Stop chasing the latest silver bullet.
Double down on the basics of SEO that haven’t changed in more than 15 years.
Remember that each query is different, and you need to win on every search.
Do these things and you’ll reach your ROI goals.
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Featured Image: WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!