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Create a Winning SEO Strategy for 2024: A Step-by-Step Approach

SEO analytics illustration with rocket

You’ve likely already heard about search engine optimization (SEO), which involves the skill and science of enhancing your website to appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), making it easier for your desired audience to discover you.

For example, if you own a French bakery in your local neighborhood, your croissants may be unparalleled, yet the intense competition from larger chain bakeries necessitates the importance of online visibility. With SEO, you can tweak your website and online presence to attract customers searching for “best croissants near me.”

Nevertheless, SEO now goes beyond keyword stuffing. Contemporary SEO tactics emphasize prioritizing user needs. By focusing on delivering quality content marketing and an enjoyable user experience, such as blog posts with enticing, mouthwatering descriptions and “how-to” baking guides, you can impress search engines while also building trust and nurturing long-term connections.

This shift towards user strategies lies at the core of an SEO strategy in 2024. In this article, our SEO Specialist and Managing Partner, Scott Darrohn, shares a step-by-step method to navigate the ever-changing SEO waters and achieve top rankings.

woman doing an internet search on her laptop

Why You Need a Solid SEO Strategy in 2024

Hey there, I’m Scott, the in-house SEO captain at our digital marketing agency. When I’m not busy turning our clients’ websites into SEO masterpieces, I’m crafting strategies that make Google smile. Today, I want to share why having an SEO strategy in 2024 isn’t just smart—it’s essential!

As someone who has worked in SEO for many years, I’ve seen firsthand how user behavior and search engine algorithms are always changing. Let’s take the Google Core update from March 2024, for instance. This significant update focused heavily on content quality and relevance, aiming to filter out low-quality content that lacked value. It affected numerous websites, resulting in a decrease in website traffic.

Now, you might be tempted to think it’s not worth implementing an SEO strategy with all these updates and algorithm tweaks. However, even in 2024, the potential consequences of neglecting SEO can be quite stark.

Let’s take a case study involving a bike shop as an example. For years, this shop relied on word-of-mouth marketing. However, as online searches for cycling gear increased, their competitor, who had an optimized website, began dominating search results. The outcome? The bike shop saw a decrease in foot traffic, leading to fewer sales.

This situation highlights the role of SEO. Organic search drives around 54% of all website traffic, making it a key source of visitors. Nowadays, it’s even more common for people to turn to their devices when they have a question they need answers to from a search engine. This trend has gained popularity in recent years due to increased device availability and ease of use.

Additionally, the emergence of voice search technology has further encouraged individuals to rely on their smartphones for convenient access to information. As a result, optimizing your website for organic search has never been more important for attracting and retaining visitors.

 

Step-by-Step Guide on Building Your SEO Strategy

Step 1.  Keyword Researchman reviewing analytics data

Keyword research is generally the foundation of any successful SEO strategy. To figure out what your audience is searching for online, write or optimize your website for that specific information so visitors will end up on your site. 

There are plenty of free and paid tools out there that can help you with your keyword research. Tools such as the Google Keyword Planner can let you know the search volume (how many people search that term) and competition levels. There are also numerous options available that can be considered “premium tools.” For example, tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can provide you with a wide range of keyword metrics, as well as competitor research options.

For example, if your company offers a pet grooming service and you want more people to find you online, you could use keyword research tools to find out which are the most popular pet grooming service search queries. However, the key isn’t necessarily volume but targeting. Sure, it may be enticing to go after high-volume keywords, but any competition for those broad keywords will be fierce and generally prohibitively expensive.

This is why it’s more effective to focus on long-tail keywords such as “mobile pet grooming services for senior dogs in Seattle”. Rather than spending a significant amount of money to rank for the keyword “pet grooming”, you could potentially generate a significant amount of targeted traffic by ranking for the highly relevant but rarely targeted phrase “mobile pet grooming services for senior dogs in Seattle”.

Once you’ve determined the right keywords for your brand and target audience, insert the terms into your website’s copy and meta tags to boost your ranking—and organically attract more traffic—in search engine results and improve your competitiveness over time. You can also use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze your competitors’ keyword strategies for the top five to ten words they use. These insights can help you adjust your own strategy accordingly.

 

Step 2. Craft Compelling, User-Focused Content

Once you’ve selected the keywords, it’s important to create quality, user-centric content at the core of your SEO strategy. Simply producing text is no longer sufficient in today’s SEO world due to Google’s content core update. This is why it is important to stay updated with modern SEO strategies that emphasize creating valuable content that connects with your audience and genuinely meets their needs.

This is where thorough audience research plays a role. By understanding your customers’ challenges, interests, and search intentions, you can tailor your content to offer solutions and insights. For instance, if you manage a website focused on home gardening, keyword research might show an increase in searches for “how to cultivate tomatoes.” This valuable information enables you to develop a manual on growing tomatoes that covers everything from selecting seeds to managing pests.

Beyond identifying content gaps, strive to fill them with high-quality content. Prioritize readability by using language and including visuals, such as images and infographics, to enhance sections with text. Remember, your goal is to appeal to search engines while engaging and educating your target audience effectively. Additionally, consider experimenting with content formats to accommodate learning preferences. For example, educational videos are effective for those who learn best visually, whereas detailed whitepapers or eBooks may attract individuals looking for information.

 

Step 3. Sending the Right Signals with On-Page Optimization

You now have your keywords and great content. Now, it’s time to fine-tune your website to communicate effectively with search engines. Take a look at these on-page SEO factors that you should focus on:

  • Title tags and meta descriptions: Use descriptive, compelling titles and meta descriptions to summarize your web pages’ content. Put your target keywords there because they can appear in SERPs.
  • Headings and Subheadings: Organize your writing into sections using pertinent headings (H1, H2, etc.) and keywords to enhance the readability of your blog posts and boost the visibility of your target keywords.
  • Content Optimization: Incorporate your keywords naturally in your write-up and ensure that they still make sense and are useful for the reader. However, you should abandon the outdated practice of keyword stuffing, where you could write anything as long as it contained all the keywords. This will get you penalized in modern search engines.
  • Image Optimization: To improve web accessibility, add keywords to your image file names, alt text, and captions, as well as provide relevant information about the image to search engine crawlers.
  • Internal linking: Set up a robust internal linking architecture with pages linked to mirror the hierarchy and structure of the entire website (not just your key pages); in the process, you’ll also help search engines see your site’s organization and the natural flow of information.


If you follow through with these on-page optimization strategies, you’ll be well on your way to providing search engines with clear signals to rank your website highly in search results and drive some valuable traffic

 

Step 4. Building Authority with Backlinks

Backlinks are like votes of confidence from other websites, indicating that your content is valuable and trustworthy and deserves to rank among the best results. The more backlinks your website has, the more authoritative it will seem to search engines.

Backlinks don’t come freely. You must earn backlinks through strategy and persistence. So, if you’re wondering how to go about it, here are a few link-building strategies that our digital marketing agency uses to get you started:

  • Guest Blogging: Write informative guest posts for reputable websites in your industry. These guest posts will offer valuable insights to the target audience and include a strategic link back to your website.
  • Create Link-Worthy Content: Create original and valuable content that other websites would naturally be interested in linking to. Imagine diving into in-depth research studies, exploring informative infographics, or uncovering data-driven industry reports. When you create content that is truly exceptional, backlinks tend to follow naturally.
  • Broken Link Building: This involves searching for broken links on websites that are relevant to your niche. You can try contacting the webmaster and recommending your high-quality content as a valuable alternative. You benefit by acquiring a backlink while helping their webmaster to improve their website.
  • Online PR & Outreach: Build connections with journalists and influencers in your industry through online PR and outreach. Proactive PR efforts, informative press releases, and strategic partnerships can result in valuable mentions and backlinks on reputable websites.


Remember, quality is key. You might want to concentrate on gaining links from closely relevant sites with a high page rank, which will really move you up in your SEO rankings.

 

Step 5. Technical SEO

While content and backlinks are crucial, SEO encompasses more than just these elements. Technical SEO plays a vital role in ensuring your website is healthy and easily accessible by both search engines and users. 

In my experience, optimizing for technical SEO requires a focus on several key aspects. Here are the most crucial:

  • Page Speed Optimization: Users today expect websites to load lightning-fast. That is why it is critical to regularly use website speed testing tools to identify areas for improvement and ensure that your website provides a swift and seamless user experience.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: With mobile internet usage on the rise, a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever. Optimizing your website for mobile devices guarantees a positive user experience on any screen size.
  • Structured Data: Structured data acts like a roadmap for search engines, providing them with a deeper understanding of your website’s content. By implementing structured data markup, you can increase the richness and clarity of your search results, potentially boosting click-through rates.


Addressing these technical SEO elements will create a solid foundation for your website, allowing search engines to effortlessly crawl, index, and understand your valuable content.

 

Upgrading Your SEO Strategy in 2024 with Advanced Tactics

Now that you know the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), let’s dive into more complex strategies to get your website to the top of SERPs in 2024.

As you already know, the field of SEO is always evolving, so tactics that worked a year or two ago may not cut it in today’s competition. Here, we will discuss the latest methods to ensure that your SEO strategy remains resilient over time.

 

Speak to the Future with Voice Search Optimization

woman using voice search on her mobile phoneThe way we search for information is undergoing a significant transformation. Virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are powering the rapid growth of voice search technology. Gone are the days of meticulously typing keywords into a search bar. Today’s users are increasingly opting for the convenience of voice search, posing natural language questions to their devices.

For example, instead of typing “best Italian restaurants near me” into a search engine, a user can now simply ask their virtual assistant, “Where can I find the best Italian restaurants nearby?” This shift in search behavior is revolutionizing the way people interact with technology and access information. This is why optimizing your content for voice search is no longer an afterthought but a strategic necessity. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Target long-tail, question-based keywords: Voice search queries typically take the form of questions. Instead of focusing on short, generic keywords, incorporate long-tail keywords that people might use when speaking a question into a search device. For instance, instead of targeting “hiking,” aim for keywords like “best places to hike near me” or “tips for beginner hikers.”
  • Optimize for conversational language: Ditch the overly formal tone and write content that sounds natural and uses everyday language, similar to how you would speak in a conversation. This enhances readability and helps align the content with how users frame their voice search queries.

Dominate Your Neighborhood Search with Local SEO

For businesses with a physical location, local SEO presents a powerful opportunity to attract customers who are actively searching for products or services in their area. By implementing a strategic local SEO approach, you can ensure your business appears at the forefront of local search results, driving more foot traffic and conversions.

 

Here’s a step-by-step approach to harnessing the power of local search:

  1. Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing:  Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Maps.  Claiming and optimizing your GMB listing is crucial for local SEO success.  Ensure your listing includes accurate and up-to-date business information, captivating high-quality photos, and positive customer reviews.
  2. Optimize website content for local keywords:  Don’t underestimate the power of incorporating local keywords throughout your website content.  Naturally include your city, state, and surrounding areas in relevant website copy, such as service pages, blog posts, and contact information.  By targeting these local keywords, you signal to search engines the geographic relevance of your business.
  3. Build local citations:  Citations are online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) across various directories, websites, and platforms.  Acquiring backlinks from local directories, newspapers, and industry-relevant websites can significantly improve your local SEO ranking.  Focus on building citations on high-quality, trusted websites to maximize their impact.
    customer leaving an online review
  4. Encourage customer reviews:  Positive customer reviews on Google My Business and other platforms like Yelp hold immense weight in local SEO.  Actively encourage satisfiedcustomers to leave positive reviews to build trust with potential customers while enhancing your local search ranking. Remember, a strong online reputation can be a game-changer in today’s digital age.

 

Schema Markup for Structured Success

Schema markup is a code you can include on your website pages to give search engines detailed information about your content. It’s similar to tagging your site’s content to help search engines better understand what topics you discuss and the value you provide.

When you use schema markup, your search results can improve by showing details, such as star ratings for reviews, event dates, or product availability. These additional snippets can increase the number of clicks on your search results, attracting visitors to your site.

For example, if you operate a store and use schema markup for product availability, you can show whether a specific item is in stock directly in the search results. This feature assists potential buyers in making decisions and increases their chances of clicking through to purchase from your site.

Although schema markup might sound complex initially, there’s no need to worry. Various easy-to-use tools exist that simplify this process, like Google and Bing’s own schema markup tools and resources. These resources can guide you through the process of creating schema markup code that is specific to your content, enabling your website to leverage data for SEO effectiveness.

 

Final Thoughts

You’ve now successfully equipped yourself with an arsenal of SEO strategies and tactics. Now, it’s time to put your knowledge into action and watch your website climb to the top of the search results!

Remember, SEO is an ongoing process, so stay dedicated and persistent in your efforts to achieve long-term success. Keep monitoring your progress, analyzing data, and making adjustments as needed to continue growing your online presence.

By refining your strategies based on data and industry trends, you can ensure your website remains visible and continues to attract high-quality traffic in the ever-changing world of search.

 


 

Scott Darrohn
Managing Partner, SEO Specialist
fishbat

For over 10 years, Scott has meticulously utilized keyword research to optimize hundreds of campaigns, ensuring content reaches the right audience through the most effective channels at the optimal time. His strategic approach enhances visibility and engagement, driving targeted traffic and maximizing the impact of our content.

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