High Level SEO Strategy: 3 Advanced Tactics
The meaning of “advanced SEO” has changed since a decade ago when it mostly referred to building links in creative ways and artfully sprinkling keywords inside your articles. Today, with the largest factor in Google’s search algorithm being consistent, high-quality content production, “advanced SEO” refers to the more psychological art of satisfying search intent with the goal of producing the best piece of content for each search query.
In this article, I will lay out the three high level tactics from which our agency has gotten the best SEO ROI results. All of them revolve around a single principle: overdelivering for your searcher. That means giving them something better than they expect, exceeding what they can find elsewhere. I can confidently say there are no more effective techniques to implement high level SEO strategy than the three explained below.
Our Top 3 Tactics for Executing High Level SEO Strategy
High Level SEO Tactic #1: Quantitative Reports
In many industries, customers are searching for data. If your company’s customers are among them, it makes sense for you to publish that data. While most companies assume they can’t do this without spending an inordinate amount on research studies, there is also a strong need for mid-level research.
On the scale of trustworthy research, you have high level research at the top—peer-reviewed, double-blind scientific studies—and low-level research at the bottom, which are thoughtfully organized but ultimately anecdotal studies. Mid-level research is somewhere in between: it consists of well-reviewed, data-intensive, yet still informal studies on topics of interest to your audience.
For example, our agency publishes a lot of original research. That data comes from the anonymized aggregate of our client data over the last 12 years. By segmenting the raw data into useful subsets, we can report on topics like conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, and lifetime customer value, even breaking down each topic by industry, company size, B2B vs B2C, and content type.
The limitations to this data are that (a) we don’t cover every industry, (b) we focus mostly on B2B clients, and (c) the data isn’t peer reviewed. In this way, the study is limited, but when you consider the fact that the data we publish often doesn’t exist elsewhere, it’s better to have a highly thoughtful informal study than no study at all.
Data can come from surveying clients or internal experts, paying to have a broad survey of a particular cohort conducted, or utilizing the data you already possess (as long as you are careful to disconnect it from any personal or corporate identifiers). The reason so few companies publish data they could reasonably obtain is only that they don’t think to do it or don’t wish to expend the effort; it is not a lack of access.
High Level SEO Tactic #2: Creatively-Organized Articles
Your prospective customers can get a tremendous amount of value from seeing something otherwise unremarkable presented in a novel way. In other words, sometimes it makes sense to spend a while thinking about the form of the content you present, not just the content itself.
Here are a few original organization techniques I’ve seen our team employ:
- Comparison charts exploring unique criteria (e.g. comparison of SEO blogs by criteria like readability, originality, and freshness)
- Product and service reviews in niche categories (e.g. this review of SEO agencies that has categories like multilingual, local, and enterprise)
- Maps that compare prices across local markets (e.g. this map of SEO pricing by city)
- Bar charts that measure credibility in nonstandard ways (e.g. this list of SEO thought leaders ranked by number of Google citations)
The key to generating this kind of creativity is to encourage your team to think big, rather than being constrained by their natural assumptions about typical content formats or the resources available to them. If they know they have permission to be totally creative, a subset of people will end up producing content that is so interesting, it ends up improving your Google rankings across the board.
High Level SEO Tactic #3: Distilled Expertise Pieces
When you’ve been doing something for a long time—at least a decade—you begin to understand it in a simplified, almost unconscious, way. If you can manage to make that knowledge conscious and describe what you know in a way others can understand, you have something very compelling. The issue with this tactic is that the people who are experts are rarely the writers, as they’re in management or executive roles; and when they are writers, they’re not always good writers.
This state of affairs is what has given rise in our business to the technique of interviewing experts. We are, essentially, a content marketing agency, and as such, must produce at least two pieces of content every week. This makes the need for elegant operating procedures quite high. Early on, we tried asking experts to write and found it too inconsistent. We then asked generalists to write and found the quality too low. Thus, we happened upon the hybrid model of the expert interview. Here is how it works:
- The team consists of a content strategist, a writer, and an external subject matter expert (SME).
- The strategist outlines what will make for the best possible article addressing the searcher’s intent, then shares it with the writer.
- Together, the strategist and writer come up with insightful questions that will answer the key elements inherent in the search query, both direct and implied.
- The strategist and writer conduct an interview with the SME, keeping the structure and key points of the article in mind, wrapping up the interview only when each section of the outline is filled.
- The writer composes the article, sharing it with an editor and a graphic designer, when relevant, to produce a final draft, then presents it to the strategist.
- Once approved, the article may be shared with the client and is published on the client’s site.
Whether you use a process like the one above or are writing the content yourself, it’s important to keep in mind that the concept of distillation, or breaking down the complex whole into its simplest parts, is key to success with expert-level SEO content. An article that displays mastery of the subject matter without confusing the reader is the most successful kind.
Here are two examples of articles my team has written that delve into subjects in a way only an expert could:
As a bonus, these articles also employ the first two high level SEO strategy tactics as well, featuring proprietary data and organizing it in an original way.
A Parting Note on Advanced SEO Strategy
As you’ve observed, I’ve chosen to focus this article on content strategy as opposed to technical SEO. Technical SEO can’t be called “advanced,” given that it mostly consists of ensuring your site is fast, mobile friendly, and secure. But content strategy is governed by an organizing strategy that is fairly high level: the hub and spoke model of SEO. If you aren’t familiar with this model, it would be best to do so before embarking on a new SEO strategy.
If you find the prospect of creating such high level content daunting, or the resources to do so aren’t inside your company, it may make sense to outsource content generation to an agency like ours. We have presences in the SF Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and Sacramento, and serve clients around the country. Contact us here.