Nobody enters the SEO world as an expert. That expertise is developed over time, after gaining more experience, encountering great successes, and stumbling through terrible failures. It happens to all of us. After going through your first couple of years and learning some of the finer points of SEO, those simply introductory strategies aren’t going to cut it any longer. If you want to continue seeing results, and expand your online visibility even further, you’ll have to undergo a number of more advanced strategic changes to support that path.
When you feel you’re ready to move from the status of “beginner” to “adept” at SEO, consider employing these seven strategy changes:
Site speed isn’t that important to your search rankings—at least not compared to the most important factors, like onsite content, navigation, and external authoritative relationships. But now that you’re an adept search marketer, we can safely assume you have all those fundamentals under control. Because that’s the case, you can spend more time on a more complex issue (like site speed) and work to optimize it both for your search rankings and for your users, who might grow frustrated with your brand if you’re unable to perform optimally. Reduce your image sizes, strip out any meta data, delete old posts, and get familiar with at least one caching plugin to keep your site running fresh.
Separate landing pages aren’t really necessary for a new or emerging site. But once you’ve spent a few months (or years) getting to know the brand and establishing a core presence, it’s in your best interest to create one or a handful of pages for segments of your audience. For example, you could create a separate landing page for each of your core products, or for each core section of your target demographics. You can then optimize these pages to show up for certain types of search, or promote them using other means (like offsite guest posts or social media syndication).
When you’re first starting out, written content is the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient way to start generating attention and building authority for your brand. It’s the fastest to create, the easiest to syndicate, and in bulk it can generate the best results. But once you’ve crossed the threshold of “beginner,” you’ll need to improve your content prowess. Utilize more forms of visual content, like videos and infographics—they may be more expensive and more time consuming, but you need a variety of content types if you want to be successful.
Like with content, when you first start out, simpler is not just fine—it’s better. You spend less time, use simpler processes, and build a foundation of authority for your site. But once you become more adept and skilled in SEO, you’ll have to increase your commitment to using high-authority sources. That means you’ll need to spend more time getting your content published on high-authority platforms, and more time attracting links from others naturally rather than posting them yourself. These changes will prevent you from suffering any penalties, and have a better potential to scale over time.
It’s tempting to write a bunch of titles and descriptions for your pages and just leave them indefinitely, but once you’re at the adept level, you’ll need to spend time auditing and revising those written entries. Consumer tastes, competitor positions, and Google algorithms all change over time—sometimes frequently—so it’s up to you to occasionally go back and make adjustments to ensure you’re ranking for the right keywords as high as possible. It’s also important to comb through your site, possibly using Google Webmaster Tools, to ensure you have no duplicate content interfering with search engine indexes.
Local SEO is relatively simple, but it can be overlooked by beginners looking to establish a foundation for their site. Google uses a separate algorithm for local search results, but with lower competition levels and a higher audience relevance, there’s no reason not to get more involved in the strategy. Start encouraging your customers to leave reviews (without pressuring them to), and make sure all your local citations are clean and in order throughout the web. It’s a time consuming process, but well worth the effort.
Last but not least, once a week you should check on the performance of your site using Google Webmaster Tools. Check to see which pages Google is indexing against the pages you have listed in your sitemap, and scan for any crawl errors. Are there any pages not showing up? Are there any 404 errors that need addressed? Most of these issues can be solved with simple solutions, like 301 redirects, but the sooner you catch them, the better.
This article does make a number of assumptions about the strategies you’ve already been using and ones you’re probably unfamiliar with. It’s entirely likely that you’re already familiar with some of the strategies above, but it’s also likely that you’re missing a handful of key fundamentals. Because of this, I encourage SEOs of all types of experience to occasionally rebuild their expectations from the ground up, revisiting the fundamentals and making sure you aren’t missing any foundational pillars.