Want to improve your SEO strategies and skills to move the needle even more for your organizations and clients?
Then it’s time to ditch the bad habits and start creating new habits – or enhancing existing ones.
Although we typically gravitate toward specific areas of SEO (technical, on-page, off-page), based on our interests or familiarity, usually we can’t focus on SEO 100 percent of the time.
Our focus is spread thin.
Here’s how you can build habits that help you broaden your scope of context- and content-driven SEO – without working twice as many hours!
1. Research Deeper
The word “research” means different things to different people.
In our industry, it often relates to keywords, competitors, and links.
As SEO focus continues to shift more to focus on the whole rather than the granular details, it is as important as ever to have good processes and habits for performing research.
While I have worked to pivot and use terms like “audience” rather than “keyword” when pertaining to my research processes on the front end of SEO campaigns, I find that some of the deep insights for terms and topics come from concentrated efforts to use tools and available data.
I’m using more tools, spending more time in the SERPs, and focusing on finding ways to understand the audience in greater detail than in the past, while not abandoning the principles of old-school keyword research as well.
We know we have to go deeper while also keeping in mind that mining for that one long-tail keyword is short-sighted in the context-based era of SEO that we’re in.
2. Measure More
I’m willing to bet that 9 out of 10 people in charge of SEO for their company or clients would admit that we spend less time in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other analytics tools than we wish.
The time is now to find ways to get numbers coming to you or dedicating time nearly daily to jumping into the numbers.
The more time we spend in the data, the more we can measure, add custom dimensions, adjust attribution models, and find insights that we won’t get if we just drop in weekly or monthly to produce a report.
3. Learn Daily
We have great go-to sources like Search Engine Journal to use when we need to find an answer or learn about what is happening in the SEO world.
That isn’t enough!
With the speed of change in website technology, trends, and digital marketing, we have to find ways to learn daily.
A great way to build this habit is finding ways to follow favorite industry sources and have the news come to you.
I get my daily learning in through article feeds delivered by email and in social channels.
I have found that subscribing and following selectively in channels that aren’t as cluttered with noise helps me focus in on the articles I need to see without having to go out to each of the sites individually – which won’t happen organically my day goes too fast for that kind of free time.
4. Work Backwards
We’re getting better at this because we have to.
SEO is part of the digital marketing mix and has a seat at the table.
However, we’re competing against channels and noise about blockchain, AI, voice, chatbots, and more.
We have to stick to what our stakeholders care about – how search meets business goals.
To make sure we’re on point, we have to start with business goals and work backwards to our metrics.
When we start with our KPIs (e.g., rankings, average position, traffic) first, we lose the important message of sales, leads, revenue, and ROI that the C-suite and clients care most about and gain the opportunity to educate them along the way.
5. Truly Focus on Context
If you’ve been in the SEO world for a long time or if you’re only doing it part-time as part of a broader role, plus a host of other reasons, it is easy to focus on old tactics or small updates.
While I can speak to specific case studies of updates to a single tag and ranking improvements, they are rarer than in the past.
Getting context right and focusing on relevance and authority status for topics as a whole is critical to SEO success.
If you’re stuck on old tactics or just dropping in from time to time to make small updates, you’re going to fight an uphill battle.
Shifting to a context mindset is important and thinking with context first and keywords, technical, and links second will help drive the right priority in your SEO plan.
6. Stay Technically Sharp
Now that I have talked about context, I have to balance that out with making sure that we stay sharp on the technical aspects of SEO.
While it is possible to pump out a ton of content or build a lot of links and rank well, the nuances of technical SEO still play a factor.
Even if you’re more of a content and creative-minded SEO, there are aspects of technical SEO you can master.
Navigating issues with duplicate content, canonicals, indexing, disavowing bad links, page speed optimization, and other aspects of technical SEO are still important.
In fact, it seems that technical SEO skills are fading a bit.
7. Engage Stakeholders
Unless you’re a designer, writer, coder, and IT person in addition to your SEO role, you can’t do your job alone.
Bring others into your strategy and your circle. Engaging those you depend upon can help you get exactly what you need.
Additionally, find ways to involve product teams, marketers from other channels, sales people, research, PR, the C-suite, and actual customers to help you learn and evolve your strategy.
I’m not saying to give people control or say over how SEO is done, but you can:
Learn any insights they can provide on your competition and target audiences.
Know your customer’s journey.
Use that valuable information to shape your plan.
8. Integrate with Other Marketing Channels
We can learn a lot and leverage what is working in other areas of marketing and advertising. It is often easy to link up with paid search and share keyword data.
Push beyond your comfort zone and find ways to gain insight from traditional marketing, print, and offline experiences.
We can do a lot to support the other channels, which can help us with content, links, and other the external factors that we can’t normally influence to fuel our SEO.
9. Balance Your Focus Across SEO
We’re all admittedly strong in some areas and weaker in others. Or, maybe you’re a unicorn or rock star that is awesome at everything.
Even if that’s the case, there are aspects of SEO that we like more than others.
Regardless of whether we’re stronger on or prefer content over technical, technical over off-page, off-page over on-page, etc., we have to create habits that balance out our focus.
Yes, you can focus on one thing, do it really well, and produce results. However, that’s a risky strategy that can backfire when a major algorithm update comes out or when a competitor shifts focus or enters your industry and has a balanced approach that crushes you.
Make sure you’re focused on all aspects of SEO and make intentional choices on why you are focusing on certain aspects and in what priority order.
Build enough balance and redundancy in your strategy to mitigate risk.
Many elements go into SEO. While this is a simple statement, it’s also very true.
So start building new habits now. Fill in any gaps you have in your knowledge or routines.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ’s Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!