Link building? Keyword research? PageSpeed?
There are plenty of aspects within SEO, which can make it difficult to prioritse your efforts.
We asked 31 SEO experts and professionals to select 3 SEO strategies that delivered better results for their projects.
High-quality content was the most picked strategy, followed by Fixing Technical Issues and Internal Linking.
We wanted to know the reasoning behind the choices.
Here’s what the experts had to say:
Sergey Aliokhin | Marketing Manager @ ahrefs
Top 3 Strategies: Keyword Research, High Quality Content, White-Hat Link-Building
To put in a nutshell, White hat SEO has always been held in high esteem by Google. Yes, it takes lots of time but you can be sure that you won’t get a penalty from Google and your efforts to succeed won’t be in vain.
Keyword research is another one fundamental aspect of optimization. You need to know what people search and do your best to rank for those terms in order to improve your traffic.
Content is king. Creating content that would satisfy both Google and users is the main secret of your content marketing strategy!
Juliette van Rooyen | SEO Consultant @ VR Squared | UK Head of SEO @ eBay
Top 3 Strategies: Fixing Technical Issues, Mobile-Friendly Website, High Quality Content
Fixing technical issues is the first area that sites should focus on, and the bigger the sites are, the more impactful those technical issues. Technical issues prevent search engines from moving through your site effectively and reduce the impact of other optimisation. Sites have spent a year on optimisations and seen no improvement, but once basic technical issues were solved, the sites start to show the improvement as Google is finally able to find those optimisations.
Mobile traffic dominates search volume, and having a mobile friendly website should be part of all considerations. This isn’t just making sure it looks nice in mobile, it means conversion elements such as CTAs that are designed to work specifically for mobile. It’s all about the experience, so if you have an AMP site or a responsive site, visitors should have a consistent experience. With the rise in mobile-first indexing, having mobile navigation that is the same as the desktop navigation is essential or search engines may be blind to portions of the site.
Search engines have developed a far deeper understanding of language and semantics, and are able to comprehend textual content more effectively. However, more importantly they pay attention to how searchers are interacting with that content. To get that interaction, content needs to be valuable to those people who discover it. Building a large set of textual content with a large amount of knowledge on a topic might appeal to people who are very interested in that topic. Instead, a short summary with some graphical elements might be more valuable to searchers who just need a high-level understanding of the topic. Content needs to be appropriate not only to the site, but to the most likely context in which people will search for it.
Bill Slawski | Founder @ Go Fish Digital
Top 3 Strategies: Fixing Technical Issues, Internal Linking, High-Quality Content
We often start most campaigns with SEO Site Audits, which act to improve the quality of sites, and visitor’s experiences on those sites. Fixing technical issues such as speed and mobile friendliness and ability to crawl sites easily can make a big difference.
We also offer creative content campaigns that attract attention and links to sites, and we pitch pages that we create for those to journalists and writers who publish about those to high ranking sites bringing considerable amounts of traffic to sites, and people willing to share those and refer them to others.
Oliver Brett | SEO Manager @ Screaming Frog
Top 3 Strategies: White-Hat Link-Building, Keyword Gap Analysis, UX and UI
Links remain a core component of how search engines rank websites, they’re not going away any time soon. While the days of major game-changing Penguin updates are over, and spam is increasingly ignored rather than penalised, it’s still important to build them in a sustainable way- always link responsibly.
Once you’ve built up a site’s authority, keyword gap analysis and working on UX provide massive opportunities. By researching what competitors are ranking for you can learn what content you need to provide. If everyone else is writing about X, but you don’t have any content about it, then it’s a no-brainer to fill that gap and cop that traffic!
By conducting thorough user testing and working with dedicated designers and web devs, we can improve UX and UI- major areas that will help us prove to search engines that we have a ‘high quality site’. Increasingly Google’s algorithm is becoming more sophisticated around user trust and engagement- so we need to stay ahead of the curve if we want to appear above the fold.
Baruch Labunski | CEO @ RankSecure
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, Schema.org Markup, PageSpeed
Content, Page Speed and Schema are three aspects that are key to getting a strong SEO ranking result for your website. They work together to drive traffic and positive site behaviors that increase Google’s scoring of your site, and therefore SEO ranking is improved.
By offering high-quality content users are more likely to visit your site to get information, entertainment or answers to their questions. Within content keywords show google what the content is all about and what search queries might be relevant.
Page speed is important for a good overall user experience as most modern web browsers have very low tolerance for slow loading websites. If your site loads quickly you reduce the chance of a “bounce” which is when a customer doesn’t continue browsing through your website. A “bounce” is a negative indicator to Google about the quality of the website. If you can reduce these it will help with your overall experience and ranking.
The schema component of your site is all about how your content and data is structured to best enable crawling by Google. The better your content is structured (by the schema guidelines provided by Google) the more in line your site will be with Google’s recommendations, they’ll be able to better list your site and ensure your site comes up in the results for a search query.
Eli Schwartz | Director of Growth & SEO @ SurveyMonkey
Top 3 Strategies: Fixing Technical Issues, Internal Linking, High-Quality Content
From nearly every project I have ever worked on, I have generated more lift from on-page SEO than anything I have ever seen from just backlinks. If a site is looking for growth, the first place I would look is how the site itself can be improved.
Craig Campbell | SEO Guy @ Craig Campbell SEO
Top 3 Strategies: On-Site Optimisation, PageSpeed, Black-Hat Link-Building
Site Speed is a ranking factor so sorting out that side of things is hugely important so having a quick loading site helps and is one of my first things to do.
This coupled with good onpage SEO is vital for anyone’s SEO campaign, but this only takes you so far so the cream on top is using a nice mixed link building strategy that works, mix it up, keep it relevant and get as much link juice as you can and you should have a pretty decent start to a campaign.
Fili Wiese | SEO Expert @ SearchBrothers | Former Search Quality and Senior Support Engineer @ Google
Top 3 Strategies: High-Quality Content, On-Site Optimisation, Fixing Technical Issues
In order to improve your website you need a unique sales proposition, a website which does not send conflicting on-page SEO signals and which is optimized for positive user signals.
Our SEO focus needs to be to manage the user expectations in the SERPS and on-page with quality content from a mobile-first approach, a fast loading website, in turn resulting in a great user experience. Tackling these issues will improve the overall ROI coming from SEO of any website.
Sean Si | CEO and Founder @ SEO Hacker
Top 3 Strategies: Keyword Research, White-Hat Link-Building, High-Quality Content
Our current strategy starts with finding the best keywords for our clients. Researching for keywords that not only encompass our client’s niche but also how it could bring about the most benefit for them in the online market.
After finding the best keywords, we will begin writing high-quality content that specializes in converting users to customers. We also write blog posts that revolve around our client’s niche to increase traffic and bring in more visitors.
While we publish fresh, informative, and high-quality content, we also build high-quality links to these pages to signal Google that our content is high-quality and people are citing our content as resources. The more links we have, the more reason for Google to consider our blog posts and other pages that contain high-quality content to be put above competitors’ pages.
Gianluca Fiorelli | Senior Strategic SEO Consultant @ ILOVESEO | Associate @ Moz
Top 3 Strategies: Fixing Technical Issues, Keyword Research, High-Quality Content
Foreword: I would have added also WH Link Building. Said that, the long term biggest wins I saw were thanks to fixing (or overhauling) the tech SEO side of a site, working on moving kws ranking in page 2 to page 1 and improving the quality (in Google terms) of the content. All factors are connected and benefits one from the other: this is what we should always remember.
Rachel Meyer | Sr. SEO Manager @ Infusionsoft
Top 3 Strategies: Fixing Technical Issues, Internal Linking, High-Quality Content
Fixing technical issues and bringing the site up to best practice standards resulted in better user experiences and higher traffic. Internal linking continues to support smart site architecture, and high-quality content helps us rank against competitors and send qualified traffic.
Steven Kang | Founder @ SEO Signals Lab
Top 3 Strategies: High-Quality Content, Keyword Research, Mobile-Friendly Website
There are various stages of SEO and maximizing keyword research is the foundation of a successful SEO campaign as it sets the direction for the rest of the content to follow. Once you can assign the funnel stage for each keyword, building content and creating the right message for visitors becomes more efficient and easier.
Daniel Pati | SEO Lead @ COS
Top 3 Strategies: Internal Linking, PageSpeed, High-Quality Content
We use internal linking in conjunction with log file analysis to apportion Google’s crawl to our money pages. We also use internal linking extensively in our recommendation engine.
High-quality content is obviously the most important part of SEO. In 2019, we’ll be doing a big content push to deliver fantastic and unique content that people are searching for.
Page speed is an area that has buy-in from all our stakeholders, as it has such positive impacts on conversion. From HTTP/2 to Brotli compression, we’ll be using every technique available to shave off those milliseconds.
Olga Andrienko | Head of Global Marketing @ SEMrush
Top 3 Strategies: PageSpeed, High-Quality Content, On-Site Optimisation
Unique high quality content is what drives people to SEMrush – we release industry studies that people read, quote and link back to. Along with content, we fix technical issues, invest a lot in on-site optimization and one of the projects for this quarter is page speed.
Nabeel Tanveer | SEO Specialist @ IKEA
Top 3 Strategies: UX and UI, Fixing Technical Issues, On-Site Optimisation
The rendering of the content is really important. With the size of website IKEA.com we can’t just rely on Google (despite of the fact they also take considerable time in rendering CSR) so SSR or dynamic render helps us serve the search engine bots better and the content gets indexed pretty quick.
Optimizing the low hanging fruits bring quick wins too. For example: a bunch of pages ranking in the first fold (not in the first position) and tweaking their meta data and optimizing the content can increase the CTR.
Ryan Murton | Marketing Director @ Growth Supermarket | Senior SEO & ASO Manager @ Badoo
Top 3 Strategies: PageSpeed, Black-Hat Link-Building, Internal Linking
Internal linking still works an absolute treat. Create content that links between each other if relevant and it works a treat. Buying links still works but place them naturally. We did a lot of work on Page Speed and got 100 scores for Desktop and Mobile. We saw an increase in Mobile Impressions & Traffic within 10 days.
Shelly Fagin | SEO @ Highly Searched
Top 3 Strategies: Mobile-Friendly Website, Fixing Technical Issues, Keyword Gap Analysis
Strategies are going to vary depending on the site, its niche, the competition, etc.. but for me, the tasks that applies to any and all sites would be to first make sure the site is mobile ready. If a site isn’t mobile first, that becomes top priority.
Next, I focus on dealing with technical issues and optimizations, both on-site and the server. Sometimes the smallest technical mistake can really hold a site back.
Next comes an analysis of content and the competition. Are you missing content or information that’s needed to be considered an expert in your niche? Aim to prove your expertise & authority with your content.
Eleftherios (Lefto) Chatziandreou | Global SEO @ CarRentals
Top 3 Strategies: Fixing Technical Issues, On-Site Optimisation, Internal Linking
Spotting and fixing low hanging fruits is by itself an SEO pre-strategy which can be easily be implemented (most of the times) on any project with minimum engineering resources.
Whether in-house, agency-side or freelancer, those quick wins can help you building momentum for your SEO project and clients.
The untapped potential gained by fixing technical issues, re-working the internal linking or doing some on-site optimization, can easily win the buy-in from key-stakeholders and get you the resources you need a lot easier.
As a result, you will move faster with implementing your tailored made strategy for your project and grow beyond the initial quick wins.
Asif Hassan | Global Head of SEO @ Kaspersky
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, Fixing Technical Issues, Internal Linking
Quality content is improves user experience and building thought leadership which is helping to get traffic from several long tail keywords, thus increasing average page rankings.
Technical issues come in several flavours and addressing every single one of them on an on-going basis is critical to improve indexing. This is an on-going process to ensure sites are growing and getting optimal performance on all devices.
Quality content and internal linking go hand in hand to improve dwell time and user experience and it is helping to meet site goals.
Mark Rimmer | SEO Business Director @ PHD
Top 3 Strategies: UX and UI, High Quality Content, Mobile-Friendly Website
The majority of sites I work with receive more than half their organic traffic through mobiles, therefore my approach is and has to be mobile first.
Not only is Google providing more weight to UX as a ranking factor, but since it benefits all digital channels, aside from improving site speed or content, no other workstream provides such cross-channel value.
Similarly, Google increasingly rewards higher value content and downgrades poorer value content and since great content drives backlinks (and engagement) this means it must be a priority.
John Cardinale | SEO Manager @ Bloomingdale’s
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, Internal Linking, Fixing Technical Issues
Technical work can be an instant fix, or can instantly hurt you if not done correctly. Internal links has been very helpful, especially for large sites where crawl budget is important. Quality content takes a while to gain traction, but when it does, it is amazing.
Christian Doeleman-Lassen | Head of SEO & CRO @ IIH Nordic
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, Fixing Technical Issues, White-Hat Link-Building
SEO has evolved a lot over the last few years, and we now educate our clients in Page Speed Optimization, Mobile First Indexing, User Experience and RankBrain.
We however still see new clients with classic SEO problems: The technical setup is not ideal, they haven’t focused enough on having the right content and they don’t have a link building strategy. Getting the basics right is still the number one priority in SEO.
Anthony D. Nelson | SEO Consultant @ Northside SEO
Top 3 Strategies: White-Hat Link-Building, Internal Linking, Keyword Research
I didn’t choose “high quality content” as a strategy because that is essential. If you don’t have content that people are interested in, SEO shouldn’t be a focus. You have to have something of value (interesting info, unique product, etc) before thinking about SEO.
Keyword research is an essential starting point to start building out pages that provide solutions to the common queries your target audience is searching for.
Building links is still extremely powerful. I think most websites underestimate the value of a strong backlink profile. When you have a nice baseline authority, it will put you in a stronger position to invest in new content since the ROI will come faster with solid rankings.
Internal linking is very important in large sites with a lot of authority but shouldn’t be a big concern for a small business site.
Bernadette Coleman | CEO @ Advice Local
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, On-Site Optimisation, Schema.org Markup
Creating high quality content that is optimized for the reader, while tying it to a local-focused keyword strategy attracts the right customers and drives results.
Onsite optimization of page URIs, menus, title tags, images, content, etc. helps with consumer intent searches.
Using schema markup on NAP (name, address, and phone number) plus additionally applying to other items such as products helps local businesses surface in organic search.
Victoria Edwards | Sr. Manager & Social Media @ GuideWell Connect
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, Fixing Technical Issues, PageSpeed
Providing high quality engagement to the consumers was educational in nature and provided real value to the consumer.
PageSpeed is always foundation in SEO that should always be considered when optimizing a website.
Finally fixing technical issues, regardless of the problem and having a solid SEO foundation will set a good precedent for the website.
James Svoboda | CEO @ WebRanking
Top 3 Strategies: Keyword Gap Analysis, Keyword Research, High Quality Content
Having quality content is a cornerstone for an organic search campaign.
Completing extensive and detailed Keyword Research is a core strategy for developing content themes and topics that will fill out your piece, or series of content pieces.
Keyword Gap Analysis then becomes an ongoing optimization effort to grow your search traffic from the foundation content you have already built.
Bruce Clay | President @ Bruce Clay
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, On-Site Optimisation, Fixing Technical Issues
Subject matter expert status must be achieved – on-page and content. And if you are blocked because of tech issues the rest does not matter. The rest (links) follow the content.
Ric Rodriguez | SEO Director @ iProspect
Top 3 Strategies: High Quality Content, Fixing Technical Issues, UX and UI
It’s hard to pick just three things, but in 2018 there’s been a clear focus on putting the user at the heart of everything we do as search marketers. From mobile first indexing, to speed updates and even improvements to Google My Business, it’s obvious that this is high up Google’s agenda too.
A key point that’s often overlooked is that while things often change in SEO, Google’s ultimate mission – to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – has remained the same since the start. So this renewed focus isn’t ‘a totally new approach’, but rather, a return to what made search engines great to begin with.
In fact, many of the foundational tactics have also remained the same – and still carry weight in the search world (although we often talk less about them). Fixing the technical basics, having a simple and logical information architecture and creating useful and meaningful content for users should form the basis of any SEO strategy – without a great foundation, it may not matter what else you do.
Mark Munroe | CEO @ SEORadar
Top 3 Strategies: Keyword Gap Analysis, High Quality Content, Fixing Technical Issues
Technical issues are becoming more and more prevalent with rising complexity due to JS platforms, PWA, schemas, more targeted use of canonical an no-index tags and the mobile-first index. Resolving the related issues results in quick and dramatic gains.
Gap analysis can feed into new content initiatives and also result in quick wins.
Quality content servers many functions, SEO, branding and link development. All things being equal, it is the great differentiator.
Mike Valentine | SEO Consultant @ Reality SEO
Top 3 Strategies: Schema.org Markup, On-Site Optimisation, Internal Linking
Technical SEO on-site incorporates all industry standard best practices to remove barriers to index-ability.
Page load speed and mobile friendliness always a focus for constant improvement of UX. Keyword funneling for conversion optimization and site structure are a focus.
Incorporation of available schema types for enhanced presentation in the SERPs and helping search engines to parse available data cleanly.
Internal linking then conveys relevance and confers authority of regularly added high quality content allowing search term targeting of top converting and long-tail terms.
Kerstin Reichert | SEO Digital Marketing Manager @ Tide | Former SEO Manager @ TSB Bank
Top 3 Strategies: PageSpeed, High Quality Content, Mobile-Friendly Website
This is quite straight forward to explain. Given we are now in an mobile first index era and considering user experience, I don’t think a company could be successful without a mobile optimised website (unless you have a very unique user group).
This closely relates to page speed, where again user experience plays a huge role. I have seen enormous positive impact just by improving load time.
The third one, high quality content, should be a given. After all the aim is not to optimise to look like the best result, but to actually be the best result and provide amazing / helpful content along the user journey.
We know it was difficult to pick the top 3 SEO drivers, but we think it is very interesting for the digital marketing community to read thoughts from reputable SEO experts from different industries.
All the strategies considered in our survey MUST be addressed to be competitive – but which should be focused first?
Our SEO Specialist Sergio Arboledas says: “It’s kind of difficult to pick 3 strategies but I am quite happy with this outcome. What we do at MintTwist totally resonates with the top 3 drivers: Quality Content, Technical SEO and Internal Linking. I’d like to reinforce the importance of a smart internal linking strategy as it can really makes the difference.”
We hope you’ve gained valuable advice from SEO experts that you can utilise for your SEO efforts and projects.
We’ve summarised the answers for you so it’s easier to digest – have a look: