Algorithms. Always-on strategies. Artificial intelligence. The arena of search engine optimization is being transformed by a vast array of different forces – and we’re still only at the top of the alphabet.
For business leaders and marketers, attempting to keep pace in this environment is challenging, but highly rewarding. While the emergence of AI and evolving user habits are certainly reshaping the future of search, organic SEO remains a fixture for digital growth, now and going forward.
Our guide to building an SEO strategy in 2024 will help you tie modern best practices into the enduring fundamentals of the craft.
What is an SEO strategy?
SEO strategy is a cornerstone of digital marketing. It is the framework that guides your approach to gaining visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) for terms valuable to your business.
Strategic SEO efforts lead to a sustainable and cost-efficient flow of organic traffic, bringing relevant people to your website or landing pages. As third-party tracking cookies fade out and paid media rates rise, organic SEO is an increasing priority for marketing leaders who want to foster long-term growth with limited budgets.
Key pillars of an SEO strategy
Certain components that would have appeared on this list a decade or two ago have disappeared, as Google has evolved its search algorithm to be driven by user engagement rather than traditional ranking signals. “Keyword stuffing” is a thing of the past – the only way to rank for competitive terms is through quality content that delivers on search intent.
With that said, there is a model that B2B marketers can use to reliably drive SEO success when aided by quality data and expertise. Build around these six SEO pillars:
- Keyword research
- SEO content
- Technical SEO
- Link building
- Maintenance and optimization
- Reporting and analysis
It all starts here. Keyword research forms the basis of SEO strategy, identifying the terms and phrases that your brand will aim to show up for. These are the questions your future customers are asking; the problems they’re trying to solve.
At TopRank Marketing, we take an intent-driven approach to keyword research, developing topical maps that help brands address the breadth of needs and curiosities for buyers at various stages.
Content is the fuel that makes an SEO strategy run. SEO content marketing refers to the creation and optimization of web content designed to resonate with both humans and search engines.
Although marketers can no longer “game the system” by stuffing keywords or harvesting low-quality backlinks, there are still technical elements that must be addressed to ensure your SEO content performs. These include page load speed, crawlability, mobile-friendliness and more.
The practice of link building is generally associated with backlinks, which serve as powerful indicators of credibility and authority for search engines. But internal linking is also critical for helping crawlers properly understand the topical organization and focus of your website.
Maintenance and optimization
Things change fast in the business world. That’s why it’s important to keep key SEO-focused content on your website updated regularly. Google appreciates refreshed, timely content because users do. Marketers can also use data to optimize, redirect or consolidate existing pages.
Reporting and analysis
In-depth reporting is a vital component of any digital marketing strategy, and SEO is no different. Tracking organic search trends, keyword rankings, website engagement metrics and other factors will help you ensure your SEO strategy is on track and delivering results you can share across the organization.
How to build an SEO strategy in 8 steps
You can find a more extensive exploration of the steps involved with creating a B2B SEO strategy in our full guide, but here’s a quick summary of eight steps that will get you started down the path to success:
- Set Clear Goals and KPIs: Define specific goals for your SEO strategy and align them with measurable KPIs like organic traffic, click-through rates, keyword rankings, and conversions.
- Conduct Comprehensive SEO Research: Dive into keyword research, audience analysis, and competitive research to lay a strong foundation for your strategy.
- Perform an SEO Audit: Evaluate your website’s current SEO status to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.
- Develop an SEO Content Strategy: Align content planning with SEO goals, focusing on high-quality, relevant content organized by key solution-related topics.
- Execute On-Page and Technical Optimizations: Optimize content with semantic keywords, headers, and technical aspects like page speed and schema markups to enhance search engine visibility.
- Implement a Link-Building Strategy: Acquire backlinks from authoritative sources and utilize internal linking to boost content rankings.
- Continuous Measurement and Analytics: Stay vigilant, monitor trends, and adapt strategies based on evolving search algorithms and user behaviors.
- SEO Reporting: Showcase the impact of your SEO efforts across the organization to drive alignment and continued investment.
Learn more on our blog: How to Measure the Value of SEO
How should SEO trends affect my strategy in 2024?
Here’s a quick overview of the most significant trends affecting the SEO landscape, and how agile marketers should be accounting for them in their strategies this year.
Artificial intelligence and SGE
AI is without question the most disruptive force in SEO, as in many other areas of marketing and business. If you’ve been running searches online in recent months, you’ve likely noticed some of the AI functionality being introduced on platforms. Google, for example, has been rolling out its Search Generative Experience (SGE), which uses the technology to summarize results, helping searchers find what they’re looking for more efficiently and intuitively.
There’s no doubt that AI tools like these will have a progressive impact on search behaviors and web traffic. As a 2023 news article in Reuters shared, “The design for SGE has pushed the links that appear in traditional search further down the page, with potential to reduce traffic to those links by as much as 40%, according to an executive at one of the publishers.”
Insights like that are understandably making digital marketers and brands apprehensive. However, it should be noted that Google openly remains focused on driving traffic to publishing websites: “As we bring generative AI into Search, we’re continuing to prioritize approaches that send valuable traffic to a wide range of creators, including news publishers, to support a healthy, open web,” said a spokesperson.
Also, this is very much a work in progress: “Any estimates about specific traffic impacts are speculative and not representative, as what you see today in SGE may look quite different from what ultimately launches more broadly in Search,” according to Google.
In other words, don’t make any rash or dramatic decisions about your SEO strategy based on what we’re seeing thus far. As of 2023, Google was still reportedly processing roughly 8.5 billion searches per day. With results being pushed down the page, one could surmise that higher organic rankings will become even critical.
Core algorithm updates
Everyone in the field of SEO recognizes that Google’s constantly evolving algorithm presents challenges in terms of understanding what to prioritize. The good news for B2B marketers is that these updates are almost always designed to improve the quality and relevance of results. If your brand is creating great content that delivers what your audience wants and needs, you’re going to be in good shape.
We covered the most recent core algorithm update (November 2023) on our blog, noting that its goal was to “enhance search quality and reduce the prevalence of low-quality, spammy content in search results.” You can find more details about the specific impact on that update in the post. Stay tuned to our blog for future search algorithm developments.
Growing emphasis on human, expert content
In the age of AI, search engines are placing an even greater emphasis on human-created content informed by genuine expertise. This is especially crucial in the B2B marketing space, where solutions are complex and trust is of the essence.
“We’ll likely see updates to boost content created by humans and experts,” predicted international SEO expert Aleyda Solis in Moz’s roundup of 2024 SEO content predictions. “This shift is a response to the growing use of AI-generated content. Also, Google might introduce new tools encouraging user-generated content (UGC) and social interactions. This move could attempt to reclaim the audience drawn to platforms like TikTok.”
Put the humanity of your content at the forefront. Adhere to E-E-A-T principles by featuring content that brings forth the experience and topical authority of your team. Address authentic challenges and pain points for your audience. Feature author bylines to help readers quickly verify the content was written by an actual person.
Set your SEO strategy up for success in 2024
As much as the world of SEO is in flux, the fundamentals remain the same: by creating stellar content that provides a great experience for your audience, your brand will be more likely to rank and gain visibility in Google results, driving high-quality unpaid traffic to your website.
Make sure your SEO strategy is built for success and equipped with the right talent to execute. Learn more about TopRank Marketing’s SEO services.
Nick Nelson is our friendly neighborhood writer-man. As the Associate Content Director at TopRank Marketing, he is on a mission to energize brand narratives with smart, fun, sharp wordplay. In his free time, Nick enjoys basking in the misery of Minnesota sports fandom, making cringeworthy puns, and smothering all types of food in buffalo sauce.