How To Rank on Google: Creating an Effective SEO Strategy for Small Business

8 Min Read

By John Ononogbu

It is terrifying to know that the number of blogs in today’s world totals more than hundreds of billion in number.

All of these blogs are in boisterous struggles for the limited attention of readers and audiences who surf the internet regularly or in search of answers.

Hence, getting noticed becomes a lot more challenging and driving traffic becomes even harder.

The image above shows the search result of searching for something as simple as “How to make french toast”. The number of results is so shocking– 171 million search results. This means there are hundreds of millions of posts on just this simple topic.

how to make french toast

Sadly, a lot of blogs and small business owners think this battle of such spanned attention can be won without a thorough and well-researched SEO strategy.

Fortunately, research has proven that the majority of the content failing to rank on search engines comes from an absence of effective content strategy in content creation processes.

In this article, I will take you on a step-by-step process on how you can effectively create and implement a well-researched and functional SEO strategy that can help you rank well on Google search engines.

Alright, let’s dive right in.

What is an SEO Strategy?

Before knowing what SEO strategy is, let’s get an idea of what the term SEO is. It is simply the process of increasing the amount of traffic that comes to a website or web page by using some best practices.

According to Backlinko, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy (also known as the “SEO approach”) is the process of planning and implementing step-by-step methods designed to improve the organic search engine rankings of a website.

In simple terms, an SEO strategy is a process employed in organizing website content so that it can have a high tendency of ranking on the Google search engine.

In today’s world, ranking on search engines, which is the fastest and least expensive way of getting more traffic to your business sites, depends on how targeted your brand‘s strategy is.

Therefore, it’s important to lay out an easy-to-follow achievable roadmap for driving traffic to your business. In short, you need to create an effective SEO strategy.

An effective SEO strategy answers questions like:

  • Where are you right now: This answers the question of your brand’s current position on search engine ranking, current SEO strategy and the flaws needed to be corrected.

All these factors must be carefully noted as they will play a big role in determining the success of your brand’s SEO strategy.

  • Where do you need to be: Although this answer looks obvious, not every brand has the desire to continuously rank on the first page of the search engine result page(SERP). Their target may just be to rank an anchor page on their website in order to draw traffic from there.

While some others have intentions of ranking multiple pages of their site on the SERP. This must also be clearly defined so as to determine if a short-term or long-term strategy would be implemented.

  • How are you going to get there: This is the action plan as it helps your brand decipher workable solutions on how to achieve the desired traffic and make sure it stays consistent.

In this step, a brand may decide to apply its methods or invite an SEO specialist or an SEO agency that can keep them on top of their game.

Any of these would work, it all depends on the choice of your brand.

Steps Involved in Creating an Effective SEO Strategy

Step 1. Rate Your Current SEO Performance

This is also called an SEO audit. As we have said before, an effective SEO strategy helps your brand in answering its current SEO performance.

Knowing where your brand stands pertaining to SEO will help in knowing what methods to employ in achieving its required goals.

Your strategy development must begin by rating your current performance so you can improve your SEO performance across:

  • Organic visibility
  • Keyword rankings
  • Website backlinks.

Fortunately, there are tools like SEMrush, Moz and Ahrefs SEO tools that can make this task very easy, hence making your strategy-building process faster.

If your site uses WordPress as its Content Management System, the Yoast SEO plugin can also help in this process too.

Step 2. Keyword Research

The process of keyword research plays a profound role in developing a good SEO strategy.

It involves the process of getting keyword ideas that match search intents and confirming if these keywords have high tendencies of ranking on SERP. So, let’s take this process step by step.

● Getting Keyword Ideas:

This is done by using a keyword research tool to show you the keyword search volume, ranking difficulty and other necessary metrics that can help in analyzing and choosing the right keywords for content generation.

In this process, you will also be able to find potential topics to write about and that can aid in outline creation.

Tools like Ubersuggest, and even Google suggest can help in getting inspiration and ideas when creating an SEO strategy.

seo strategy
A Picture showing UberSuggest; A keyword research tool.

As you know, there are two types of keywords– Short-tail and Long-tail keywords.

It is advisable for small brands who are just starting out or trying to rank on Google should populate their SEO strategy with long tail keywords as they are less competitive.

In choosing the right keywords for your brand’s content marketing process, there are 4 main things must be taken note of:

  1. Search volume of keyword:– The search volume of a keyword tells us the approximate number of people searching for that specific keyword on a monthly basis.

Using a keyword explorer tool can help in analyzing this detail. But considering this factor alone is not enough when creating a strategy that helps you in ranking on Google.

  • Keyword’s Traffic Potential:– The traffic potential of a keyword refers to how much clicks and traffic you can get from that keyword when you rank on search engines like Google.

It has been discovered that although some keywords are searched, they may not end up receiving clicks.

It’s because readers may just be in search of succinct details which they can just find on the metadescription or on Google headline.

  • Business Potential: This is considered in keyword research as the main purpose of content marketing processes by brands is for meeting business goals.

Hence, when developing a good SEO strategy, your choice of keyword must be one that adds value or brings something relevant to your brand.

There are different ratings for this depending on how much profit and benefit the keyword can bring to your business.

For example, if you have an ecommerce store, more priority should be placed on keywords that have high impacts on your business like those that bring up your product pages or product descriptions.

This doesn’t mean those that serve in educating your audience on what type of products to buy when they search for a solution you offer are useless.

  • Keyword’s Ability to Match Search Intent: Another criteria an SEO strategy must entail is its ability to match the search intent of users surfing the internet.

Knowing search intent is as simple as analyzing the type of content and format on Google’s first page when you search for that keyword.

Search engines’ algorithm has a way of grouping and accurately ranking search results web that answers users search query.

Let’s say, A user goes online to search for “Shoes for Christmas”.

Search engines analyze the query and the results show the search engine understanding of the query.

In this case, images and product pages come at the top of the search results. This shows that when most web users search for this keyword, their goal is to get pictorial ideas and ecommerce sites where they can get shoes for Christmas.

shoes for christmas
Picture showing Search results for the Search Query; “Shoes for Christmas”

When generating a solid SEO plan, knowing the content type(blog, video, how-to guides or even product pages for tutorials) for this search query will help a lot in satisfying the search intent of users and increases the chances of the website being clicked.

● Competitor Keyword Analysis

It is hilarious to know that the whole reason for conducting SEO best practices and developing an amazing SEO strategy is mainly because of competition. Trying to get your business in front of your customers in this digital world is becoming increasingly difficult and competitive.

Therefore, carrying out competitor keyword research gives you an idea of what the others in your niche are doing and what keywords they are ranking for. This further helps you decide which keywords to use and how to do better than your competitors.

There are lots of tools that can aid your brand in doing a thorough SEO competitor analysis. These tools help you analyze the keywords they rank for, their search volume, their domain authority, their backlinks and the volume of traffic the keyword is bringing to their site.

Step 3. Write High-Quality Content with a Clickworthy Headline

When it comes to writing high-quality SEO-optimized content, you’ve got just two options: 

Option 1: You can create something unique.

Option 2: You can create something entirely better.

Picture13456 Motimagz Magazine

The important thing here is to use your understanding of strategic marketing and skill content writing ability to create engaging content that is valuable to your target market.

Valuable content includes content that answers the questions that your target audience has, provides them with insights they can use, and educates them so they can be better at what they do and make the right buying decisions. In a long term, they see you as a thought leader in that niche and develop trust in your services.

Also, the content created must have a click-worthy headline that can drive clicks to your blog or sites. A click-worthy headline must be captivating, show some promise and specifically hit the pain point of the reader.

Lastly, one thing noteworthy of high-quality content is its ability to have keywords strategically placed in its headlines, body and metadescription. When web users search the internet, they do so using exact keywords that can proffer solutions to their problems.

The essence of keyword research is to pinpoint these keywords. After getting the keywords, you must flexibly and naturally use them to create your content.

Picture1345 Motimagz Magazine

Step 4. Work on Your Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO processes involve all the steps you do outside the website that can enhance its ability to rank on Google. They include:

  • Backlinks
  • Facilitating web users to search for your brand.
  • Improving shares and engagement on social media

The most important aspect of off-page SEO is backlinking. Backlinks are just a way of saying how many websites are referenced or linked to your website or a particular page in it.

According to Stone temple research which was shared on Moz blog, links are one of the highest criteria for ranking on Google’s first pages. Search engines make use of the number of your website’s backlinks to judge how authoritative and trustworthy it is.


However, research has proven that quality of backlinks connected to your websites are rated higher than the quantity of the links.In simple terms, if you have few high quality sites linking to your website and a large number of sites with low quality, your site has a high tendency of ranking with the few high quality websites linking to it.

Building backlinks can be done either by running a link building outreach whereby you send cold emails to sites owners and admins linking to your competitors’ sites for the same content. This method is generally used by most businesses and blog owners.

You can easily get this data by using SemRush linbuilding tooto analyze and collect data from your competitors website. There are also other good SEO tools from Moz,Ahrefs.

Another method is called the Broken link method which involves you doing research on sites that have either been linked to previous outdated websites or websites that have gone extinct.

This method is quite easy as blog owners would be happy that you took note of what they slipped off. Then you can take a step further in suggesting a replacement with a more recent specific blog post on your website that answers the exact question or gives solution to the exact problem on the respective website.

The last method is even harder but later yields bountifully. It involves creating high-quality and useful content that when others come across, they would be excited to link to it.

Writing useful content involves crafting an indispensable article that people always research about and thoroughly exhausting accurate details on that topic. Topics that tell people about statistical data, ultimate guides and how-to’s are very useful because people would always want to learn.

Step 5. Enhance Your User Experience

The factor of user experience must be taken very seriously. According to Robert Berris in his blog, Three UX Principles that can help your website do its job right. Google has evolved and they are placing a higher emphasis on websites that deliver quality user experiences across multiple

platforms and devices.

Many websites of business owners, for the sake of instant benefits, choose to forgo user experience. One of the ways you can enhance your website user experience is by reducing the number of ads on it to a minimum rate and if necessary only allowing ads that are related to the purpose of your website.

A lot of websites get a high amount of bounce rates even though they have good content because of the number of ads in them.

Also, you can enhance the user experience by compressing the sizes of your images and videos on your website. The reason is that the more content you upload on your website, the slower it could become if not properly optimized by technical SEO experts.

Your site loading speed will go a long way in assisting visitors to enjoy a pleasing and fulfilling experience on your site. This can help your off-page SEO too.

Lastly, User experience can be improved by making sure your website has a good but less distracting content design. This helps in making it look intuitive and less tiring to read especially for long posts. Use of good illustrative graphics where necessary, blog post banners and even screenshots if need be.

Step 6. Set Your Goals and Key Performance Indicators(KPI)

Setting goals and KPIs is another important aspect of creating an effective SEO strategy. You need to have a pretty good idea of where you want to end up so that you’re able to put in place an actionable plan to get there.

Also, you should be able to measure your success and know when you’ve achieved your goals (as well as track your progress against these and know when it’s time to pivot).

It is essential to know that goals and KPIs are different as seen below:

  • Goals = The end outcome that you want to achieve
  • KPIs = Metrics that demonstrate progress towards your goals

While these are often used interchangeably in SEO, you must set out for both of them during your strategy creation phase. This will help you in monitoring your progress at definite times as SEO is not a sprint but a marathon .It is a cyclical process so you must consistently keep at it and stay on top of your game to keep the traffic coming.

Benefits of Having an Effective SEO Strategy

At this point, you are already wondering if you have to go through all this stress just to rank on Google. You are already thinking of your Paid marketing strategist or that affiliate marketer you had an agreement with that promised to help you promote your website. Perhaps, you should take a bit of air and check out how beneficial adding a solid SEO strategy is to your content marketing processes.

  • Free organic traffic, unlike paid ads.
  • Once you can rank high, organic traffic will stay consistent because you will continuously stay on the Google result page as long as you don’t stop following and updating your already prepared strategy.
  • Having an effective SEO strategy helps in crafting engaging and audience-centric content.
  • Having an exceptional strategy opens your website to a world of an audience without any struggle.

FAQs on Creating an Effective SEO Strategy

1. How many SEO Keywords should you use when creating your content?

Most experts recommend 1 primary keyword with 2-3 secondary keywords. While in the body of content, related keywords can be used to make the content look natural.

2. Urls with long keywords or short keywords; which is better?

According to a thorough analysis of search engine results, short keyword URLs always outrank URLs with long keywords in search engine rankings.

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