SEO Strategies for Real People: How to Rank Without Losing Your Soul

20 SEO strategies from small business experts. These will help your customers find you, choose you and buy from you.

For as long as there have been search engines, people have been obsessing over SEO strategies at the expense of real, human connection. It’s time we flipped the script.

When I look at my analytics, I always find that the articles where I simply sat down and wrote for my customers consistently drive more traffic, generate more engagement and make me more money over time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean throwing SEO out the window. It’s still crucial. But let’s use it as a tool to help our readers find, choose, and benefit from us, not as the end-all-be-all of content creation.

With that in mind, let’s dive into 20 proven SEO strategies. They’re not magic bullets, but they can enhance your content’s visibility without sacrificing its soul.

20 SEO Strategies from Experts

Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash

1. Long-Tail Keywords: Your Niche’s Best Friend

Forget broad, competitive terms. Target specific, long-tail keywords that resonate with your niche audience. They drive qualified traffic and increase conversions. It’s about understanding and catering to user intent.

One successful SEO strategy that delivered results was the comprehensive integration of long-tail keywords for an e-commerce client in the outdoor gear industry. By shifting focus from highly competitive, generic terms to more specific long-tail keywords aligned with their niche audience’s search intent, we observed a 20% increase in both organic traffic and conversion rate. We found the key takeaway is that long-tail keywords, while lower in volume, drive more qualified traffic. For niche businesses or those struggling to rank for broad terms, building a comprehensive long-tail keyword strategy based on audience search data can significantly increase organic visibility and conversions. But it requires deep research into user intent. When leveraged successfully as part of a targeted SEO approach, long-tail keywords can unlock new growth opportunities.

Dennis Jost, Founder, Digital Solutions Expert, Kulana Media Productions LLC

2. Evergreen Content: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Update your top-performing evergreen pieces regularly. This keeps them relevant and ranking high, maintaining their status as your content stars.

One successful SEO strategy that has proved successful for a client is cultivating and updating top-performing, evergreen content pieces. While our SEO strategy is diversified between producing new content and updating content that performs well, the latter is very important. When you have several “star of the show” content pieces, don’t neglect them! If you see a drop from ranking 1 to ranking 3 in search results, it may be time to add updated and substantive content to that piece. Others can apply this by ensuring that, rather than only focusing on new ideas, they keep an eye on top-performing, evergreen content pieces to ensure they remain relevant and continue to rank well.

Amanda McCrea, Senior Content Coordinator, Online Optimism

3. Local SEO: Embrace Your Community

Optimize for local search. Engage with local events and shout-outs to other businesses. It helps in becoming the go-to spot in your community.

I had a client whose website was pretty good, but it was like a ghost town. We decided to give local SEO a shot. We optimized their Google My Business profile, sprinkled local keywords all over their site like fairy dust, and got them listed in all the right local directories.

But here’s the kicker — we started creating content that was all about local events and shout-outs to other local businesses. It wasn’t long before the community took notice. People started talking, traffic started buzzing, and our client became the go-to spot in town.

So, for all you digital marketers out there, get local. It’s like throwing your own block party and watching everyone show up. Connect with the neighborhood, and they’ll connect right back.

Arthur Valverde, SEO Consultant, Padzup

4. Mobile-First: Cater to the On-the-Go Audience

With the majority browsing on mobile, optimize for mobile-first indexing. Focus on a responsive design, quick loading times, and local and voice search optimization.

The rising importance of mobile devices led to a focus on optimizing websites for mobile device searches. As most users consume content on the go, a shift to a mobile-first SEO approach was made, which has resulted in an increase in organic traffic. To implement this, a few simple steps can be followed. First, focus on having a responsive and mobile-friendly design, especially since Google focuses on mobile-first indexing. Secondly, limit the usage of pop-ups. Although it may seem like a good idea, it can hamper the user experience. Thirdly, absolutely fix the technical errors on your website. Fourth, pay attention to the mobile loading speed. Nobody wants a slow-loading website. Lastly, do not miss out on SEO optimization for local and voice searches. The recent trends point toward voice searches becoming the next big thing. There are many more steps in mobile SEO, but these can serve as a good starting point.

Subodh Doharey, Account Director – Search(Execution), RepIndia

5. E-A-T: Establish Your Authority

Create content that enhances your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This improves your reputation in the eyes of both Google and your readers.

Using E-A-T guidelines to create a content strategy and writing them proved to be a successful SEO strategy for a client. Choose to write topics that focus on topical authority. Consider whether the topic you are writing can make you appear as an expert in Google’s eyes. These are some ways that anyone can use this strategy.

Mei Ping Mak, Director of SEO and Web, Weave Asia

6. FAQs: Answer What They’re Asking

Incorporate frequently asked questions into your content. This boosts organic rankings and can lead to enhanced SERP features like Featured Snippets.

One successful SEO strategy that proved to be effective for a client was to find and answer all the frequently asked questions in their niche. This was achieved by taking all their target keywords and querying the SERPs to mine the “People Also Ask” results. The next step involved using frequency analysis to determine which PAA questions appeared most frequently for each group of related head terms. By doing this, the client was able to enhance the content of each page and started ranking better organically, ultimately winning enhanced SERP features like “Featured Snippets,” “People Also Ask” results, and “Organic FAQs.”

By creating comprehensive and informative content that addresses these questions, marketers can improve their website’s relevance and authority, potentially leading to better organic rankings and visibility in search engine results. This strategy aligns with the trend of providing helpful content, which is expected to be crucial in 2024 when Google rolls out SGE globally.

Laurence O’Toole, CEO, Authoritas

7. Crawl Optimization: Make Google’s Job Easier

Ensure your site is easy to crawl and index. This involves managing sitemap files and fixing internal errors, crucial for visibility.

Tidying up a website’s crawling and indexation coverage is a great starting point for any SEO strategy.

Many sites, particularly large e-commerce websites, suffer from index bloat. If you’re unfamiliar with index bloat, it’s where search engines find more pages than they should. I’ve seen upwards of 90% of discoverable URLs being pages that aren’t indexed. This is a huge red flag!

This is crucial because all the content and links in the world won’t help a website if the pages aren’t indexed to begin with.

Here are a few key steps to apply this strategy:

1. Go to Google Search Console. Under “Indexing,” select “Pages.”

2. Work through all the “Not Indexed” errors here.

3. Ensure your sitemap files only serve status 200 URLs.

4. Remove internal 3xx and 4xx links on your website.

This exercise could significantly improve your website, or a client’s site.

Ben Poulton, SEO Consultant and Founder, Intellar

8. Link-Building with Long-Tail Keywords

Combine long-tail keywords with a targeted link-building campaign. This places your content in front of a highly relevant audience.

Let me take you back to when a small e-commerce client wanted to shine in search engine results. The challenge was daunting – fierce competition, a niche market, and a tight budget. Instead of chasing the elusive short-tail keywords, I devised a strategy that focused on long-tail keywords. We delved into the intricacies of the client’s products and uncovered unique, specific search terms that reflected buyer intent.

The website’s content was transformed, woven with these long-tail keywords seamlessly. Product descriptions, blog posts, and even FAQs became gateways for potential customers to discover the client’s offerings. Simultaneously, we implemented a link-building campaign that targeted niche influencers and industry-specific blogs. Rather than casting a wide net, we strategically placed the client in front of a highly relevant audience. The results were excellent, to put it mildly.

Leslie Gilmour, CEO of Digital Marketing Agency, BeFound

9. Review Strategy for Local Rankings

Encourage customer reviews. They improve local profile visibility and contribute significantly to local SEO rankings.

One strategy that always works for our local clients is putting together a review strategy. Not only do reviews make a profile look better, but they’re also a direct factor in how well a local profile ranks. We work with our clients to add getting reviews as a part of their service system. We also set them up with review-reminder services to send reminders via email and text. This has helped some of our clients get more than 100 reviews for their business.

Isaac Hammelburger, Founder, Search Pros

10. Featured Snippets: Aim for Position Zero

Optimize content to answer common user queries concisely. This can land you in the coveted ‘position zero’ in search results.

Optimizing website content for featured snippets has proven a successful SEO strategy for clients. By identifying common user queries and providing concise, informative answers, clients can secure the coveted “position zero” in search results, improving visibility and establishing authority. To replicate this success, digital marketers should conduct thorough keyword research, create valuable, structured content, and use structured-data markup. Regularly updating and maintaining content is crucial to maintaining its position and remaining relevant in the competitive world of SEO.

Fahad Khan, Digital Marketing Manager, Ubuy India

11. Google Trends: Stay Relevant

Monitor Google Trends for trending topics in your niche. Include these in your content to stay timely and attract backlinks.

Leveraging Google Trends is one successful SEO strategy that yields excellent results for our clients.

To apply this approach to boost your SEO, what you all need to do is diligently monitor the trending topics related to your niche in Google Trends. Produce relevant content by conducting thorough keyword research to identify keywords and phrases that are trending in your niche-related searches.

By organically including these trending keywords and phrases into your content, you not only optimize for search engines but also attract potential media houses and journalists to connect with you and share your content via backlinking – an important aspect of SEO.

In addition, this approach ensures that your articles and blog posts are perfectly aligned with the real-time interests of your target audience. Resultantly, this not only helps boost your SEO rankings but also ranks you as a dynamic and timely source of information within your niche.

Shivansh Bhanwariya, Founder and CEO, Shivansh Bhanwariya Digital

12. JTBD-Related Keywords: Understand Their Needs

Focus on Job-To-Be-Done related keywords for targeted, needs-based content. This approach enhances conversion rates and drives growth.

In my experience working with a SaaS client, a highly successful SEO strategy involved targeting Job-To-Be-Done (JTBD)-related keywords, which helped my clients make more money from organic search. To replicate this strategy, you begin by conducting thorough keyword research to identify relevant JTBD-related keywords. Then, create and optimize content that directly addresses the specific needs and pain points of your target audience, focusing on how your SaaS product can fulfill these job-to-be-done requirements. This customer-centric approach can significantly enhance conversion rates and drive business growth.

Anurag Pandey, Founder, Visiner (SaaS SEO Agency )

13. User Experience: Make Their Visit Pleasant

Optimize your site’s navigation and page structure. A better user experience translates to improved SEO performance.

As a digital marketer, one approach that has really worked for me and my clients is to focus on user experience (UX). UX is an often-overlooked aspect of search engine optimization, and yet, it can have a huge impact on both the user experience and SEO success.

For example, one client who was struggling with low rankings in search engine results had poor navigation and page structure. We addressed these issues by optimizing their website’s Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) structure for Google, along with offering better internal links between pages for improved user flow. 

Within a few weeks, our client saw significant improvements in their ranking position in organic search engine results due to improved user experience.

Sehrish Aslam, Marketing Assistance Specialist, Bank Statement PDF Converter

14. Updating Older Content: Refresh and Rank

Regularly update older content with new target keywords and meta tags. This keeps your content fresh and ranking well.

One effective SEO strategy is updating older content regularly and launching fresh pieces with new target keywords and more suitable meta tags. While creating as much valuable content as possible is encouraged, it’s important not to neglect old top-performing blogs, as this can negatively impact overall organic traffic.

The key is to update the content to reflect the current time and events. This may involve changing the blog’s headline and meta tags to reflect the current year, such as “AI trends to look out for in 2024.” Fresh content with updated figures and research tends to generate better views, and Google usually ranks them higher than pieces that haven’t been updated since 2020.

For those operating an affiliate or blog-focused website where a majority of revenue comes from healthy organic traffic, it’s recommended to split content drafting into a 2:1 ratio and regularly update older content.

Jon Kelly, SEO Specialist, 1st On The List

15. User-Focused Content: They’re the Star

Produce high-quality, user-focused content. This involves thorough keyword research and creating insightful, engaging content.

High-quality, user-focused content production is one effective SEO tactic. To put this strategy into practice, start by conducting in-depth keyword research to determine target keywords and comprehend user intent. Create content that supports this goal by offering insightful guidance and solutions. Prioritize quickly-loading pages, ensure they are mobile-friendly, and optimize on-page features. Create backlinks of the highest caliber, make frequent content updates, and improve the user experience overall. Promote content via a variety of platforms, such as social media sharing, and track results with Google Analytics and other tools. Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term approach; thus, maintaining success over time requires perseverance and patience.

Jeff Romero, Founder, Octiv Digital

16. Comprehensive Content: Go Deep

Instead of short pieces, create in-depth guides. This establishes your authority and improves SEO results.

One SEO strategy that has proven successful in my experience is the comprehensive compilation of content around a specific topic. For example, instead of writing a short piece with a few SEO tips, our team produced an in-depth guide with 25 tips. This substantial, all-encompassing approach not only improved our client’s SEO results but also established us as an authority within our niche. 

Other digital marketers can adapt this strategy by investing time in detailed research on their chosen topic and then creating a meaningful, in-depth, and resourceful piece of content, exceeding typical standards and expectations. Do not forget the visuals – include screenshots and be very specific with them, as they can help make your content more unique and in-depth.

Ron Evan Del Rosario, Demand Generation – SEO Link Building Manager, Thrive Digital Marketing Agency

17. Expanding Website Structure: More to Explore

Broaden your website’s structure. This enhances user engagement, which in turn improves search rankings and conversions.

Our experience working with proved the effectiveness of expanding website structure for SEO. wanted us to help them increase their organic traffic in their target regions (US, Canada, and UK) to increase subscriptions to their service. A broader website structure enhances user engagement, which leads to better search engine rankings. After expanding their website structure, they had longer user engagement, which increased their rankings and overall conversions. The user engagement metrics increased by 20% for average sessions and 27% on pages per session. The traffic in the USA increased by 25%, 30% in Canada, and 35% in the UK. There was a 15% increase in subscription rates. Others can use this approach as well. The first step is to do a technical audit of the website, identify areas that need improvement, and expand the website structure. Pay close attention to missing queries and services.

Valerie Lavska, CMO, Promodo

18. Entity-Based Keywords: Connect the Dots

Use entity-based keywords to establish relationships between keywords and categories. This improves search engine rankings and user engagement.

As digital marketers, we’ve successfully employed entity-based keywords, a potent SEO strategy. By utilizing single-word, two- or three-word, and long-tail keywords related to the same entity, we connect user intent, context, and word relationships to generate accurate search engine results. This approach significantly boosts client visibility by establishing relationships between keywords and categories, eventually interconnecting. To implement this strategy, focus on your entity-related keywords, ensuring your content aligns seamlessly. By understanding these keywords and their relationship to user intent, digital marketers can replicate this approach, driving improved search engine rankings and user engagement for their clients.

Ajay Prasad, Founder and President, GMR Web Team

19. BoFU Content: Focus on Conversion

Develop a comprehensive bottom-of-the-funnel content roadmap. This targets potential customers ready to make decisions, increasing conversions.

For a SaaS, we created an entire roadmap for their bottom-of-the-funnel content. This covered the whole BoFU scope, from category content to competitor alternatives. They’re a small Chrome-extension product, so it didn’t take much to convince users to sign up for their product. Now, they have an entire lead-generation pipeline for their product at a fraction of the cost compared to PPC. My advice to others is to focus on profits over traffic.

Taylor Scher, SEO Consultant, TaylorScherSEO

20. High-Quality Content: The Heart of SEO

Remember, content is king. Focus on creating informative, high-quality content. Good content can rank well even with minimal traditional SEO.

As a digital marketer, the most successful strategy I have used has been focusing on high-quality, informative content. In my experience, content sits at the heart of SEO. Without content on your web pages, all other SEO elements lose significance. Even a page with no “SEO” can rank if it has good content, but without content, no SEO tactics can be effective. So, my best strategy is to start by putting words on my clients’ web pages and develop an effective content strategy.

Great SEO content isn’t just about writing; it also involves proper keyword research. With a good research process, the rest of your SEO efforts become much simpler. If your pages aren’t ranking well, you may need to re-evaluate and choose different keywords. Invest in a keyword-research tool and follow the best practices for using it. Once you’ve created optimized, relevant content, make sure to promote it through social media, email, or other channels that align with your business and target audience.

Precious Abacan, Digital Marketing Manager, Softlist

Balancing SEO and Humanity

The bottom line? SEO is a powerful tool, but it’s not the sole focus. By creating content that resonates with your audience first and using SEO strategies to amplify that connection, you create a win-win situation. Your readers get valuable content, and you get the visibility you need. In the end, it’s about striking the right balance between catering to search engines and genuinely serving your audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does SEO still matter?

Absolutely! SEO is like the compass of your digital presence. It guides your content to the right audience. Think of it as your online matchmaking friend. It helps people find your content when they need it the most.

How do I choose the right keywords without overthinking it?

Start with what you know. What questions do your clients often ask you? Use these as a starting point. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help, but don’t get lost in the data. Sometimes the best keywords are just the plain language your customers use.

How often should I update my website for SEO?

Think of your website like a garden. It needs regular tending. Update your main pages every few months, and add new blog posts or content regularly. This keeps your site fresh and more attractive to search engines.

What’s the deal with mobile SEO?

Think about how often you use your phone to look something up. That’s what your audience is doing too. Make sure your website looks good and works well on mobile devices. It’s not just about looks; it’s about being accessible where your audience is.

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