A great SEO strategy is worth its weight in gold — and clicks. Today’s online marketplace is a crowded place, with many brands offering similar products or services to the same audience. The best way to stand out? Original content and lots of it.

An impressive 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, versus the 10 percent that can be attributed to paid search and the 5 percent driven from social media. The better your content is optimized for the search engines, the more likely you’ll be to get in front of online searchers and turn that traffic into revenue for your business. No small feat, of course, but an effort that doesn’t have to put a major strain on your budget and resources if you strategize right.

Becoming a master of the search engine domain requires a plan. Here’s why it matters, plus tips for putting an SEO strategy into action.

Why Your Brand Needs SEO

The internet has brought a world of information to our fingertips, which means that consumers are doing lots of research before deciding on what brands to partner with. In fact, it’s estimated that 93 percent of all online experiences begin in a search bar, with Google taking on an overwhelming share of that traffic.

Simply existing on the web isn’t enough, though. Three-quarters of those searchers aren’t scrolling past the first page of results, so if you’re not ranking at the top, you’re not making it onto their radar.

SEO helps deliver the right content to the right consumers, making it easy for searchers to find what they’re looking for and for brands to connect with high-quality prospects. It also helps your content stand out against all the rest, optimizing your outreach not just in its position on the page but in its relevance to the searcher. This drives more organic traffic back to your site, bringing your audience to you without the need for costly paid ads.

But wait, there’s more! Dollar per dollar, SEO is one of the most cost-effective tools at your disposal. Instead of paying per click or impression, any money you spend on your SEO strategy goes directly into creating better content. That’s a lot more sustainable in the long term and can keep bringing in benefits long after you’ve broken even on your spending.

How To Implement an SEO Strategy

Now that you know why you have to prioritize SEO, it’s time to talk strategy. Here are four essential steps to making your SEO strategy go the distance for your business.

1. Keyword Research

Conduct keyword research to determine which words and phrases your audience is searching online. There are both free and paid options for doing this — including industry favorites like Google Keyword Planner, Moz, and Ahrefs. Choose a tool that aligns with your budget and your objectives. Look not just at the price tag but at the additional features being offered, such as topic generators or industry benchmarking capabilities.

2. Create Topic Clusters

Topic clusters are a collection of interconnected pieces of content under one topic umbrella. The umbrella topic is outlined on a pillar page, with related content connected to the page by links.

Topic clusters show off your authority on a subject — one of many defining factors that search engines use to rank your site. They also help you rank for more keywords. Use your pillar page to optimize for a high-value, hard-to-rank-for keyword, and your associated content to get at those keywords that are easier to rank for. The pillar post will serve as the most important page, with the other pages under the cluster serving to bring in the bulk of organic traffic.

3. Promote Pillar Pages

Get the most juice out of your pillar pages by strategizing specific ways to promote them. Some ideas:

  • Share your pillar pages on social media
  • Have your sales team use them in their conversations
  • Create guest content that allows you to link back to those pages
  • Create an ebook or whitepaper that you can link to your pillar pages in

All of these efforts will further boost your ties to that high-value keyword and bring more traction to the rest of your related content.

4. Measure Success

Oversight needs to be a huge part of your SEO strategy. At any given time, you should know how well your site is ranking online and what pages are doing best. You should also know how your organic search traffic is increasing (or decreasing) month after month, and how much of that organic traffic is converting. Use an analytics platform to gather and sort data, and tweak your strategy as needed to respond to what that data is telling you.

A well-thought-out, well-executed SEO strategy could be the defining tactic for surging past your competitors. Are you meeting the mark?