Search Engine Optimization. Those three words both delight and terrify business owners and marketers all around the world.
The benefits an SEO marketing strategy can offer are invaluable for your brand. More traffic equates to more leads. More leads equate to more sales. More sales = business success.
But it goes further than that. With a solid SEO strategy, you’ll build brand awareness, allowing those sales to become far more accessible. So think about it in terms of the stages of awareness.
As an SEO professional, I see digital PR becoming more and more popular in the off-page world.
How SEO Impacts the Stages of Awareness
There are five stages of awareness. Any person could be at any stage in their acquisition journey:
- Problem aware
- Solution aware
- Product/ brand aware
- Most aware
When you’ve mastered your SEO strategy, and your site is listed at the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP), you’ll quickly find that people begin to recognize your brand’s name. With that, each of these stages becomes easier to master, meaning your likelihood of gaining a sale will increase.
If a person is already product/brand-aware due to your SEO strategy, you only need to work at upleveling them by one, rather than by five whole stages.
Let’s face it: SEO is Hard
But, if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. And everyone’s trying.
As I said, business owners delight in SEO, but they also fear it. Because it demands a vast investment of energy, time, and money plus, your SEO strategy will fluctuate in terms of results because Google is constantly changing its ranking criteria.
So, how do you jumpstart and power your SEO strategy without getting bogged down with all the technical intricacies?
Before you can implement it, it’s essential to have a strong SEO knowledge base to work from.
The Three Pillars of SEO
If you’re aiming to get yourself on the first page of the SERPs, you need to understand what makes a strong SEO strategy. There are hundreds of details here, but they fall under three main pillars:
Without a combination of these three pillars, your site won’t rank.
But, what do these pillars mean?
Authority is exactly as you’d expect. It’s how you convey expert knowledge and pose yourself as an authoritative figure within your industry.
Relevance relates to how ‘on-topic your content is. How does your site match up to the searcher’s intent? What themes and topics are you covering that people are genuinely looking for?
You’d think that search engines would have a hard time discovering the level of trust in a site. But they can, to some degree. Essentially, search engines determine the trust ranking of a site through its content. Is it genuinely authentic? Does it serve the reader? Do you back your claims up with a link to a reputable site where you found your information?
The strategy we’re talking about today will help increase your ranking for all three of these pillars.
Yes. One strategy satisfies three pillars.
The Biggest SEO Challenge
Before we jump into our strategy, let’s consider the hardest thing about SEO: link building.
What is Link Building?
Link building is an SEO strategy that relies on two types of links:
- Internal links
- External links
Search engines evaluate the reliability of your site from the number of links pointing toward it. However, the ‘higher quality sites will convey more trust than smaller ones. This is because internal links point toward URLs that are a part of your site, whereas external links rely entirely on third-party entities.
You should have a healthy balance of both link types to boost your SEO.
Why is Link Building Hard?
While internal links are reasonably easy to implement, external links depend on other sites using your content as a reference and providing your site as the source. This can be tricky.
With your content quality and technical edits (which factor into relevance, trust, and authority, too), your on-page and off-page SEO can be controlled by your team.
External link building, however, is the only element controlled by an outsider of your team.
That is until you implement the powerful strategy we’ve been leading up to:
Thought leadership is something that many business owners and marketers strive for.
What is Thought Leadership?
Thought leadership is a marketing tactic that works by establishing your brand as a figure of authority within your field. It comes from the idea of being a leader through your subject knowledge and acting as an authoritative subject-leader within the industry.
Why is Thought Leadership the Ultimate Marketing Strategy?
Thought leadership is one of the most holistic and organic ways to build links, so it works wonders for your search engine optimization.
But, it dives deeper than that.
Being a thought leader will help you establish trust, extend your brand awareness, and allow you to act as the go-to brand within your field. That means it’ll be far easier to pitch your offers and sell out your products or services.
Thought leadership stems largely from trust, and that trust is gained through value.
So, while today we’re focusing on thought leadership and how it intertwines with a powerful business SEO strategy, it also offers an immense range of other benefits to help you build your business the way it deserves.
Why Do Business Owners Fail to Become Thought Leaders?
While the business owners who don’t gain thought leader status will point their finger at their strategies, the reality is: the failure often comes from their own fear.
Being a thought leader means putting yourself out there. It means speaking, sometimes at great lengths, about your field.
Many begin the journey to becoming a thought leader, but they catch a strong sense of ‘imposter syndrome’ and crumble from the pressure.
In reality, everyone who owns a business can be a thought leader because for you to open a business, it’s implied that you’re incredibly passionate about what you do.
However, many people stand in their own way. Being a thought leader isn’t easy. While the methods to get there are simple, the implementation demands high levels of dedication, effort, and time.
But, once you’ve made it there, there’s no doubt every second was worth it.
What Does Thought Leadership Look Like?
Opportunities to become a thought leader are everywhere. You’ll spot them in the form of contributor articles and guest posts, podcast appearances, interviews, guest-teachers, collaborations – you name it. Everything you’re invited to is an opportunity for thought leadership progression.
How to Get Started To Become a Thought Leader
Being a thought leader may feel like a far-fetched dream, but for you to get there, you have to take that first step.
And as soon as your foot hits the ground, you’ll see that it was a lot easier than you made it out to be in your mind.
Getting started starts and ends with you. You need to lay your foundational mindset. Unfortunately, many people stand in their own way before they can begin to see authentic results. They’ll blame the strategy and give up. But, their mindset was never prepared for the journey to becoming a thought leader.
So, begin there. Write down your goals, and work backward with a strategy for how you’ll achieve them. Remember, every business and every industry is different. You want to appear in places your audience hangs out.
The next step is to simply get yourself out there.
You can start small with local community events, speak at your alma mater, and do small-time interviews for smaller sites.
Just start building your authority.
How Does Thought Leadership Link To SEO?
The reality is, if you’re posting or appearing on other brand’s sites regularly, you’ll captivate their audience. When you win leads from another brand’s following, they’ll want to learn more about who you are, what you do, and what you offer.
And that’s where your SEO comes into play.
At the end of your guest post, in the YouTube description, in the author’s notes – wherever you post your publication details – you’ll link back to your own site.
And it doesn’t end there. When you’re writing content about a topic within your industry, you can use an external link to one of your own articles. That boosts your external link count, even though it was you who placed it there.
The more you get yourself out there, the more you can deposit external links that point back to your site.
Create Thought Leadership Opportunities with Digital PR
Digital PR is undoubtedly the best way to establish your authority, create valuable backlinks, and boost your SEO.
You have the thought leader mindset. Now implement the strategy to reap the rewards.
James is an SEO consultant based in London. Working with clients around the world to get more traffic from search.